The Nafasi Academy, founded in 2020, is a long-form artistic programme designed to train artists and curators in key aspects of artistic practice from concept development, technique, professionalization, and history. With the support of mentors locally and abroad, the goal of the Academy is to strengthen the technical and theoretical potential of culture workers in Tanzania.
The Academy operates as a collaborative, co-creative site of inquiry and consists of a curriculum designed around questions that aim to instigate critical reflection around arts practices that are relevant to the contemporary context and which take an encompassing view of art and society – past, present and future.
The New Shapes 2021 thematic programme is a shorter, more practical version of the Academy designed around specific themes. It aims to bring together graduates from the academy and other cultural practitioners interested in learning how to refine their work through creative practices.
The name New Shapes comes from a quote by Khalil Gibran, who wrote that “Art arises when the secret vision of the artist and the manifestation of nature agree to find new shapes.” For the programme, “New Shapes” means taking a journey towards new understandings, histories, visions and imaginings of how we live with the world and nature – which can then be communicated fully and completely through any medium of art.
The artists in the New Shapes programme have undertaken three weeks of research around the theme with the support of mentors — various artists and curators locally and abroad including artist Asteria Malinzi (TZ), Francisco Guevara (MEX), Kim Gurney (SA), Anawana Haloba (ZAM). There was also an exchange with the artist group participating in the Tuning In: Mini-lab residency programme in Zambia and the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology who invited the artists to discuss and compare commonalities between artistic practice and design technology.
Following this period was an 8-day residency in Morogoro – a town that is the agricultural centre for central and western Tanzania. Part of the residency involved a 4-day stay with communities in the Uluguru mountains, the catchment area for the Ruvu river which supplies both Morogoro and Dar es Salaam with water.
In the coming two weeks the artists will enter the production phase of the project that will require each artist synthesizing the knowledge and experiences into original works of art. These will be exhibited at Nafasi Art Space on 11 December 2021.
BIOGRAPHIES OF PARTICIPANTS
Liberatha Alibalio was born and raised in Kagera, Tanzania. Liberatha is a contemporary textile and multimedia artist based in Dar es Salaam. After graduating from the University of Dar es Salaam with a BSc. in Textile Design and Technology (2018), she began working as a visual artist in the medium of textiles. She is inspired by self-knowledge, history, childhood memories, experiences of early life and how these inform her current consciousness. Her work focuses on storytelling and articulating interior narratives.
Jennifer Msekwa was born and raised in Tanzania. She is a contemporary visual artist and environmental activist. Her practice is primarily based in Arusha, Tanzania and her conceptual and technical approach is greatly influenced by indigenous knowledge around ecosystems and her work often incorporates natural materials.
Baraka Leo Chale is a multi-creative artist and curator born in Tanzania. His practice operates across disciplines including visual arts, music, design and film production. He draws influences from life experiences, nature and people.
Walt Mzengi is a Black filmmaker that believes in the responsibility and power of visual media to uplift and generate avenues where Black artists can strive and find expression. He is a member of Nafasi Art Space. He has worked on several award-winning films while in South Africa, and written and directed films that have been selected for festivals such as Black Star Film Festival, and Monmouth Film Festival.
James Choga was born in Iringa, Tanzania. In 2017, he received his Bachelor Degree in Land Management and Valuation (BSc. LMV) at Ardhi University. His visual art practice centers on questions of identity and self image among contemporary youth. James has already been included in various important exhibitions including HAKUNA KULALA and SAA ZA KAZI both at Nafasi Art Space. His work has also been showcased in German in the project titled ASANTE SANAA.
Lembulisi Gwalugano Ayubu (Gano Artist) is a self-taught artist. He participated in various art courses, workshops and residences within and outside Tanzania. His latest art event is WASEMAJE Art Exhibition organized jointly by The Embassies of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland on 17th October 2020. He works in various media, as well as teaches art to children and young people. Gano Artist is always seeking new horizons in engaging his art skills for sharing and showcasing.
Mohammedmzee Mwinyijuma is a young artist based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania whose work centers around the role African history can play in informing new relationships between people and their environment.
Temela Hassan is a multidisciplinary artist, musician and dancer whose practice encompasses singing, composition, carpentry, metalwork and installation. He is interested in the preservation and reinterpretation of tradition within culture.
Safina Kimbokota is a permanent artist in residence at the Department of Creative Arts at the University of Dar es Salaam. She is a contemporary sculptress, focusing on metal sculptures that combine fabric and painting elements. Her figurines highlight social pressure facing young women in Africa.