The fourth edition of the Kampala Art Biennale will take place online this year from 28 October 2020. Founded in 2014, the Biennale aims to bring into dialogue the four corners of the African continent and continue to solidify the position of contemporary African art on the global art stage.
The Biennale rejects the idea of a virtual showroom, instead looking to challenge the way people understand visual arts and emphasising the potential of art as a radical tool to change perceptions and influence society. This is reflected in the theme chosen by the acclaimed Cameroonian curator Simon Njami for year’s event: Get up Stand up!
Simon explains the concept behind this theme:
“Bob Marley’s song, Get up Stand up! was a call for action: an action to free our bodies and souls. The context was that of a human revolution where one should not ‘give up the fight’. Times have changed, but the challenges remain. Today, the question of freedom takes another turn: political, of course, but also economical and intellectual. How can we envision freedom in a globalised world? With the help of their masters, the students of this second chapter of The Studio will be asked to invent a language of their own, a language that could allow them to ‘stand up’ for their beliefs and their ideas.”
The Biennale aims to provide new perspective and create (virtual) homes and places of knowledge and sharing. For the Studio project, Simon invited a group of internationally recognised artists (The Masters) to open virtual studios and provide workshops and training for selected young artists from Uganda and other countries in Africa and the world. The Studios are mines for reflection and experimentation. The Masters began working with the apprentices in April this year and the work to come out of the project will be exhibited in this year’s Biennale.
We are supporting the participation of four Master artists from Switzerland and the SADC region through our core and SDC-funded regional programme.
Laurence Bonvin is a Swiss-born documentary photographer and film maker based in Berlin and Geneva. Her work focuses on the transformation of landscape around large urban centres and other suburban phenomenon. She has exhibited extensively in Switzerland and internationally, and won numerous awards and fellowships including the Swiss Art Award in 2002 and 2009. Laurence is the author of four monographs. She studied at Ecole Nationale de la Photographie in Arles, France and has been a professor of photography at ECAL University of Art and Design in Lausanne, Switzerland since 2002.
FROM SOUTHERN AFRICA
Tracey Rose is a South Africa artist well-known for her performance art, photography, videos, and installations. In much of her work, Tracey investigates questions of gender and colour, often through the visual motifs of her own body and body hair. Performing in her own artworks and employing the tropes of the carnivalesque and satire, Tracy interrogates stereotypes, such as cultural stereotypes imposed on Africans, women, and African women. With her quasi-slapstick stagings in a punk DIY aesthetic, she consciously undermines aesthetic standards. Hence, the artist goes against the very conventions that are in tacit agreement in the still male- dominated art system. This artistic strategy is evidently apparent in her video installation Ciao Bella, 2001, that was exhibited at the 49th Venice Biennale. Tracy studied at WITS University in Johannesburg in the mid-90s before going on to teach at the institution and the Vaal Triangle Technikon.
Dana Whabira is a Zimbabwean artist, architect and cultural facilitator, who lives and works in Harare. She studied art and design at Central Saint Martin’s College in London. Dana’s work is a snapshot of all media, including experimental assemblages, installation, spatial intervention, sculptural painting, and photography, which incorporate performance as process. Her work often takes a story or event as a point of departure, drawing on current affairs, literature, philosophy, and theatre for inspiration, and employs language as a metaphorical device. She runs Njelele Art Station which aims to make a lasting contribution to contemporary arts culture in Zimbabwe and the region.
Andrew Tshabangu is a South African photographer, born in Soweto in 1966. His photography has been exhibited internationally in various exhibitions. Andrew is renowned for his surreal smoky lighting, documenting the rituals of black communities in urban Africa. He is fascinated by the city where he lives – Johannesburg – loves strolling its streets and, like a voyeur, captures the fluid movements that constitute a city’s fabric. Invisible to his subjects, Andrew tells, as both an actor and an outsider, the daily lives of working people.