africanah.org

Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Matt Kayem

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Sungi Mlengeya

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There is a multitude of ways on how to make entry into Mlengeya’s world. We could start with the women in the work, young and beautiful, very reflective of the artist’s locality, Uganda for having one of the youngest populations and East Africa for having some of the most good-looking ladies on the continent.

Matt Kayem on the black and white paintings of the Tanzanian artist Sungi Mlengeya
In the hems of our skirts, 2020

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Ronald Odur

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So I think it’s very right for artists to engage in politics in their work just like they deal with other issues in their society, it’s still their mandate. At the end of the day, politics affects everyone, if there is a rise in sugar prices, I don’t know if artists don’t take tea or don’t use sugar. If there is insecurity in the country, the artists won’t even create, so we have to talk about these issues so that there is a change.

Matt Kayem interviews Ronald Odur

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Teesa Bahana, director of 32° East Ugandan Arts Trust

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What does it mean to live a full life? What does it mean to have beauty in the world? What does it mean to live in a society that in many ways can be quite repressive as well? But we don’t have avenues to address that and art is one of those few places we do, although sometimes we have to self-censor and not be so obvious, but it’s an outlet. On an individual level, people being able to deal with their mental health, their emotions, all of these things, that’s one thing.

Matt Kayem in conversation with Teesa Bahana, director of 32° East Ugandan Arts Trust

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Kampala Art Biennale 2020 online

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The theme – Get Up Stand Up – is so strong and would have been explored to its depth. Owing to the fact that the host country Uganda is going through a political conundrum with a president who’s been leading for the last 35 years, suffocating a lot of freedoms, manipulating state institutions to his favor and spearheading a shameless corrupt government. It was timely and on spot to have such a theme for such a biennale where we should have seen Ugandan artists tackle the appalling political situation in their country.

Matt Kayem on the Kampala Art Biennale
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Speak Life: An Online Exhibition featuring Canon Rumanzi, Juliano Trabou, & Anthony Jermaine

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What a timely exhibition is all I can say. And how important to see artists who are conscious of their surroundings and most importantly choosing to speak out about what they see and experience around them.

Matt Kayem on the online exhibition Speak Life
Visual: Anthony Jermaine

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