KLA ART 014 festival: representing and celebrating the unseen urban-dweller

October 23, 2014

The Kampala Contemporary Art 014 Festival is taking place from 4 to 31 October. The festival is organised by Hivos’ Arts Collaboratory (AC) partner 32º East Ugandan Arts Trust, a centre for creating and exploring contemporary Ugandan art.

Throughout the month of October, the festival is showcasing contemporary artists from Uganda and neighbouring countries. This year’s theme is “Unmapped”- Who are the unheard voices of our cities? How can we represent and celebrate the unseen urban-dweller? The festival explores this theme in three areas.

The Festival Exhibition at the Kampala Railway Station features a selection of artists from Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, DRC and Rwanda. Five Ugandan curators, together with South African curator Gabi Ngcobo, worked with the artists to represent the mostly unheard of artisan traders in these countries’ major cities.

The “Boda Boda Project” displays artworks by twenty artists who created them on or with a boda boda motorcycle taxi, one of the most iconic elements of daily life in Kampala. The artworks were based on questions about mobility, safety and quality of life in the cities. During this project, the festival collaborated with groups such as an association for disabled people. The boda bodas tour through Kampala daily and stop at key locations to set up a unique temporary exhibition space. In this way, the boda bodas become a “vehicle” to showcase the latest works of Uganda’s contemporary artists, map the city, engage directly with the public and highlight new ideas.

The third area is the Mapping of KLA’s Artist Studios. This is an open studios network running throughout the festival, which lets visitors travel across Kampala on a KLA ART 014 matatu (minibus) to ‘Unmap’ artworks, ideas and creations by Ugandan artists directly from their studio.

Hivos’ Arts Collaboratory partners have taken advantage of KLA ART 014to to organise a so-called TENT. A TENT provides opportunities for Arts Collaboratory partners in the region to link up to the festival,  familiarise themselves with the context of the country, exchange knowledge and experiences and collaborate on joint projects. It is a low budget and informal instrument to improve collaboration and linkages in the network and give more visibility to the Arts Collaboratory network in the region. During KLA ART 014, Arts Collaboratory partners Picha (Congo DR), Nubuke Foundation (Ghana) and Raw Material Company (Senegal) were present in Uganda. TENT events and activities included the Artist Studio Tour, a visit to the Boda Boda Project, a lunch meeting with current and potential partners, and a symposium.

For more information about AC, KLA ART 014 or 32º East see the links to the right and follow KLA ART 014 on Twitter (@KLAARTfestival) and Facebook