Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa. The Show is Almost On.

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From a letter, written by Henry Morton Stanley:

Ulagalla, Mtesa’s Capital, Uganda, […] April 12th 1875

Mtesa is about thirty-four years old, and tall and slender in build, […] but with broad shoulders.

His face is very agreeable and pleasant, and indicates intelligence and mildness.

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If we would be able to go back 142 years in time we would find ourselves in the middle of Ssekabaka Muteesa I’s reign over Buganda. We might have been among the crowd welcoming Henry Morton Stanley who visited Buganda on his journey to confirm the source of the Nile. It is widely known that Muteesa’s welcome of Stanley resulted in a call for missionaries to come to Buganda. Little known is that Stanley was the first visitor to Buganda who carried a photo camera with him.

Stanley used one of his last glass plate negatives to portray Kabaka Muteesa with his chiefs. This led to depictions of Muteesa that are widely known in Uganda. The photograph these depictions are based on, on the other hand, is not part of a Ugandan collective memory.

In the 1870s it was not yet possible to reproduce photographs in print. The two volume book that reports on Stanley’s journey through East Africa is therefore illustrated with woodcuts. Some of these woodcuts are based on photographs by the author. The illustration of Muteesa and his Chiefs is one of these pictures. In this interpretation of the group portrait the facial features of the men depicted seems to deviate from the photograph. The men are no longer black. It would not be a stretch to call the woodcut a mis-interpretation (see the April 11 below for the picture).

The combination of the observed absence of the photograph from collective memory and its misinterpretation led to this exhibition. It shows responses to the photograph by a wide range Ugandan artists and picture makers and by HIPUganda initiator, Dutch artist and researcher Andrea Stultiens who invited the other artists.

Some of them explore the photograph formally. They make us see things in the photograph that we might not have noticed with their skilful interpretations.

Others approach the picture and its historical and contemporary context in a critical manner. They are questioning the unfolding of history, and want us to think about what could have been had events taken different turns.

Below each contribution to the exhibition is introduced in words of the artists themselves and/or Andrea Stultiens. Every day one of the artists is featured. 

Please note, this blog post is a continuation of ‘How to have a conversation with the past?‘ and continued in ‘The show is on

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Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa feature April 12th: Margaret Nagawa and text as artistic material.

 

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On her website Margaret Nagawa states that ‘Writing is a pleasure, sometimes a challenge.’ In her Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa she takes up text as an ambivalent material and moulds it into a text that blends English and Luganda. This bi-lingual approach, reminiscent of Daniel Omara’s Luoetry, reminds me that culture is something that can only be understood, in all its relativity, by entering it. The non Luganda speaker will get that they do not get it, the Luganda speaker will get that there are different things ‘to get’ in Luganda and in English.

In addition, Nagawa’s words are presented in the exhibition as a monumental image. It is several meters high, rendered in a typewriter font, and montaged onto a large barkcloth sheet that is traditionally used to bury people in.

Here is Nagawa’s text, words in an image, and images in words:

 

 

 

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Above: Margaret Nagawa’s Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa, ca. 4 meters high and 1,5 meters wide (come experience the scale in the gallery).

 

Kabaka Sayidi Mukaabya Muteesa I

1856-1884

 

At Ssekabaka Kintu’s palace in Busujju

A sheep and a goat were slaughtered

To celebrate his birth. 

 

Rituals were performed at Mpanga Bukeerere

In Nnaggalabi he sat on Nnamulondo, the throne.

For nine days and nights

He planned his reign in Buganda house.

 

He emerged,

Planted a mutuba tree.

He harvested nine enjulu,

His shield was made. 

He planted nine hoes, 

His subjects resumed farming. 

Mourning the deceased Kabaka ended. 

 

He played omweso

With the Ssemanobe and some chiefs. 

The King won.

The King must win. 

Kabaka ateekwa okugoba ng’atemyekiteme

Emitwe gy’ekyeso gyombi ng’agitemyeko.

 

He reigned as Ssabataka, Ssabasajja, Mpologoma.

He was Nnamunswa, Ssabalongo, Bbaffe.

He decreed

 

His body be buried whole. 

Tradition dictated removal 

Of akaba, Kabaka’s jawbone

To be buried separately

In a special shrine

With akalira, 

His long-preserved umbilical cord. 

Royal spirit

To be thus protected. 

 

His father, Ssekabaka Ssuuna II

Followed custom

Resting in Wamala, jawbone separate. 

What the possessed his son?

 

Omutanda yakisa omukono

Omuliro gw’e Buganda gwazikira

The fire, ekyoto Ggombolola, was extinguished 

Mujaguzo drums announced his death. 

 

The Kabaka was buried whole. 

Or so they say. 

 

How then did parts of his body

End up in a museum in Cambridge, England?

How did his likeness

Enter a museum collection in Tervuren, Belgium?

 

It looks like him. 

Is it him?

Is it still him

When an inferno obliterates Kasubi his burial site?

Tukuuma lubugo?

 

Margaret Nagawa

Kampala, March 2017

Below: Calendar poster made to commemorate the burning of the Kasubi tombs, including Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa to signify both Muteesa and his grandson Kabaka Daudi Chwa.

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Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa feature April 11th: Fred Ndaula, a man of multiple talents.

 

 

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Above: Fred Ndaula in the office for tour guides, that hosts a permanent exhibition of photographs and artefacts, at the Lubiri in Kampala. Above him on the left the so far in Uganda best known ‘Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa’, with next to him photographs of respectively his son Kabaka Mwanga II, his grandson Kabaka Daudi Chwa II, and his great grandson Kabaka Muteesa II. Fred is holding his first interpretation of Stanley’s photograph.

 

The first time I met Fred Ndaula was in 2011 in his capacity as a tour guide for the Buganda Kingdom. The setting was Unesco heritage site the Kasubi Tombs. The tombs had burned down the year before. I wanted to see what was left of them, and whether and how a reconstruction was going to be done. Fred was my took me around. He turned out to be a knowledgable, skilled and entertaining storyteller. The tour ended in the shop, that included paintings on barkcloth by several artists. Fred Ndaula himself was among those artists. 

Last year, as I was taking some Dutch students around Kampala, I met Fred Ndaula again. This time he took us around the Lubiri and I invited him to be, as an artist, part of the ‘Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa’ project. 

 

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Above: (mis?)-interpretation of Stanley’s photograph in woodcut, by an illustrator of the first volume of ‘Through the Dark Continent’.

 

A couple of weeks after Fred Ndaula accepted the commission the painting was done. It confronted me with the expectations I thought I didn’t have, while it tried to meet expectations Fred projected onto me.

The pictures Fred and his colleagues made and sold stood out because of the materials used; pigments mixed with glue, applied to barkcloth. But Fred had decided that pigments with glue would not allow him to ‘make the faces come out’. It was, he explained, with pigments in glue not possible to depict certain details, and therefore he had chosen to use acrylics. However, with the use of acrylics the barkcloth surface had disappeared. Apart from the borders of what had now simply become a canvas, the material did not play a part in the picture. 

Fred had, next to the print of the photograph he was given, done additional research. He had found photographs of chiefs that were born during the last years of Muteesa’s reign and used their likenesses to give character to the faces of some of the chiefs in the photograph. And he had taken the woodcut made after the photo as inspiration, and copied details from it, such as the plant in the lower left corner, and the shoes the depicted men wear. 

 

Below: two details of Fred Ndaula’s first and second ‘Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa’, with in between photographs of Ham Mukasa, and Apolo Kagwa. Both photographs were digitised by HIPUganda, and are part of the collection of the Ham Mukasa Foundation / Family collection.

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For a while I hesitated. Should I ask for another version? This time in my preferred materials? But what about the autonomy of the artist? What if he felt it was necessary to use these materials for him to make the picture his?

When I did ask for another version I added that he was free to use his imagination, to interpret rather than to copy the photograph. What is interesting is that this project in general, and Fred Ndaula’s pictures in particular made me understand how fluid these two notions are. How impossible it is to distinguish one from the other. 

In the resulting picture Fred Ndaula placed Kabaka Muteesa and his chiefs in front of a large scale building, similar to the Kasubi Tombs, that are still in the process of reconstruction. And he added details such as a white cock and a Mweso game. Through this animal and object, whose layered meanings are only readable for an incrowd, he made the picture less accessible and more interesting at the same time. 

 

Below: a black and white detail of Fred Ndaula’s ‘Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa’ in pigment in glue on barkcloth.

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Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa feature April 10th: Ian Mwesiga and a very particular way to explore and make a likeness.

 

 

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Towards Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa I asked Ian Mwesiga to revisit a method of making he explored in depth a couple of years ago while making self portraits. He translated sensorial experiences into pictures without looking at what came out of his drawing hand. In stead, he looked at himself in a mirror, and drew. Or he felt his face with one hand, and drew it with the other one.

For Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa Ian fixed his gaze on Henry Morton Stanley’s photograph. It was stuck onto a painting easel on eye-hight. Meanwhile he drew with charcoal on a sheet of paper that was on a horizontal plane in front of him. He calls this method of making tracing with the mind’:

Because the details of the photo are really not clear I am trying to be sensitive to light and shadow. I can’t get clear lines of where the eyes, nose and mouth are. What I can see are just blacks and greys.

Ian made six drawings. Each one took no more than five to ten minutes to make. But those were minutes of extreme focus on Ian’s side as I have rarely witnessed. Out of the six drawings there were three that struck us as capturing an essence of the photographic picture.

I wondered, and asked him, ‘What is the moment when you decide to break the gaze and look at what you have done?’:

I look down when I don’t know anymore where I am on the paper.

When we were looking at the drawings Ian said:

You do not get this honest displacement of details in any other way.

Below: part of one of Ian Mwesiga’s ‘Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa’

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Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa feature April 9th: Violet Nantume (and a drawing made in 1862 by explorer J.H. Speke)

 

 

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Above: Violet Nantume working on one of her ‘Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa’ collages.

Several artists who take part in Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa are challenging the balance between the two Luganda words for provocation: ‘okusomoza’, to challenge, to give something to think about, and ‘okunyiiza’, to make angry or to offend [see below in the part with and about Eria Sane Nsubuga]. Today’s featured artist Violet Nantume is one of them. She is not afraid to touch on taboos concerning sexuality and nudity in Buganda. Nantume did not only take Stanley’s photographs into account when making her ‘Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa’, but incorporated descriptions that are portraying the Kabaka in words into her thought and pictures. She uses collage as her technique and method of visualisation, and appropriates parts of known pictures from a variety of sources. That way she makes sure most people will be able to connect with aspects of her collages that give access to the new whole created by her.

It is also possible to offend and provoke without intending to do so. Cultural misunderstandings and ignorance are, though in Uganda when caused by outsiders like myself often forgiven, reason fur such offence. In this feature I want to highlight Violets work by introducing a picture that, without feedback from Ugandan friends, might have looked like a provocation.

Stanley’s photograph is not the earliest depiction of Kabaka Muteesa that is available in the public domain. John Hanning Speke visited Buganda in 1862 while on a mission to locate the source of the river Nile. In his published ‘Journal’ he mentions that the Kabaka was drawn by his companion J.A. Grant and himself several times. These drawings are no longer known to exist, but another one, not mentioned in the journal, is. There are, as we will see, understandable reasons not to mention it, and for me to ask Violet Nantume to work on the drawing before showing it in the ‘Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa’ exhibition.

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Above: detail of J.H. Speke’s watercolour picture of ‘M’tesa King of Uganda’, 1862. Collection Royal Geographical Society, London.

Historian Leila Koivunen writes about Speke’s drawing of Kabaka Muteesa in her book ‘Visualising Africa in Nineteenth-century British Travel Accounts’: “Travellers’ sketchbooks abound with pictures of scantily clad or semi-naked Africans. Yet, overt nakedness seems to have been too much for publishers, and such images were usually omitted from publications. This was the case with Speke’s picture of M’tesa, the King of Buganda.

[…] Speke and James Augustus Grant spent almost five months at M’tesa’s court and securing a portrait of the king became an important task. Speke is known to have treated the king and his courtiers for venereal disease, and this frontal picture shows the young king completely naked and “preparing for a blister” as Speke explains above the picture. Images of naked Africans are not rare in travellers’ sketchbooks, but such overt frontal nakedness was usually avoided. [The editor of] Speke’s Journal […] omitted the venereal disease passages in Speke’s manuscript. Also omitted was Speke’s picture of the naked king.” Koivunen does not mention the ‘manuscript’ or ‘sketchbook’ the picture was part of. I found out when visiting the Royal Geographical Society in London, where it can be found, myself.

Speke mentions traveling with picture-books of ‘birds and animals’ (‘Journal’ p.435). If we go by Speke’s writing it seems as though the books were mainly used as a commodity to make contact with and gain the sympathies of peoples encountered. Speke repeatedly mentions how the picture-books met great fascination and enthusiasm. One of these books is now part of the collection of the Society. I was surprised to find the picture of Muteesa not in a journal or sketchbook, but on the first page of this ‘bird-book’ next to a handwritten recipe to make watercolours of the East-African landscape. The rest of the book made feel like crying. I assume that when Speke set out on his journey it only contained the hand-coloured lithographs of North-East African birds made by illustrator Joseph Wolf that I saw on its right hand pages. On quite a number of the left hand pages of the book are now additional depictions of birds, clearly made by less accomplished draftsmen Speke, and, occasionally, Grant. It is not the difference in detail in the drawings that made me emotional, but the juxtaposing of ‘Wolf’s birds’, alive and depicted in a natural habitat, and Speke’s birds, obviously dead with their feet folded under there bodies. These birds must have been shot by Speke or a member of his entourage. The birds Wolf drew were also shot. He used their skins, made available by explorer and naturalist Eduard Rüppel, and his knowledge of bird anatomy to construct their likenesses (see p33 of Wolf’s biography). While I was aware that this my mind was playing a game with me and the pictures, the dead birds became instant metaphors for the treatment of colonial subjects by colonialists and missionaries that resulted more or less directly from Speke and Grant’s visit to Buganda.

Below: Spread from the bird-book that contains Speke’s drawing of Kabaka Muteesa with Wolf’s hand coloured lithograph on the right hand page, and the dead birds by Speke on the left hand page. Collection Royal Geographical Society, London.

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While I considered Speke’s drawing of Muteesa to be naive and clumsy in its set up, several artist friends in the Netherlands admired ‘the clarity of the lines’ without knowing what they were looking at. The proportions of the depicted man were obviously off and his features highly simplified. I at all, I considered this picture to potentially be embarrassing for its maker. Nevertheless I felt that this picture had to be part of the ‘Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa’ exhibitions, as a pre-history to Stanley’s photographs. When I showed it to friends in Uganda they advised me to reconsider this, as they told me, it might be offensive. Not completely convinced I decided to show the picture to the Minister of State of Tourism and Culture when I next met her. She confirmed what my friends had told me, and added that exhibiting the picture in Uganda might cause damage to my efforts to build the photo collecting and sharing platform History In Progress Uganda. What really convinced me though was another kingdom employee who was present. He was not only offended cognitively, but in every grain of his body and stated that ‘if it would not have been for you, I would have smashed that laptop’.

In my observation the drawing to be clumsey and childlike, and therefor harmless. The proportions of the depicted man were obviously off and his features highly simplified. I nevertheless thought that this picture had to be part of the ‘Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa’ exhibitions, as a pre-history to Stanley’s photographs. But when I showed it to friends in Uganda they advised me to reconsider this, as, they said, it might be offensive. Not completely convinced I decided to show the picture to the Buganda Minister of State of Tourism and Culture when I next met her for another matter. She confirmed what my friends had told me, and added that exhibiting the picture in Uganda might cause damage to my efforts to build the photo collecting and sharing platform History In Progress Uganda. What really convinced me though was the response of another kingdom employee who was present. He was not only offended cognitively, but in every grain of his body and stated that “if it would not have been for you, I would have smashed that laptop”.

This response made me understand how problematic it was show the drawing. In additional conversations with Ugandan friends it was suggested that it actually was the clumsiness of the drawing  and the distorted bodily proportions that made it offensive.

I nevertheless wanted to include the drawing in the exhibition, but in an edited version. Because of the collage technique she used, I asked Violet Nantume to dress the depiction of the Kabaka as drawn by Speke. She accepted the invitation and, in addition to dressing Muteesa, she made a manuscript that mirrors the one written by Speke to successfully picture the East-African landscape in watercolour:

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What follows are reproduced fragments of a list that seems to be a manuscript for the production of a water colour image of the East African landscape. From the left hand spread in the bird-book that also contains J.H. Speke’s drawing of Kabaka Muteesa.

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And ‘A manuscript for Dressing His Majesty’.

By Violet  Nantume in response to the invitation to dress up the drawing by J.H. Speke.

– 1 –

Yellow and Black thread

Weave various combinations of both yellow and black into twist rope.

1, 1-1, 2-1, 3-1 (y-b).

1, 1-1, 1-2, 1-3 (y-b)

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– 2 –

Try on various layout of the twisted thread.

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– 3 –

Knot the end of the threads.

Leave the end loose.

Untangle the loose ends with a needle.

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– 4 –

Double knot both sides of the layout.

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 – 5 –

Stitch from shoulder down, almost covering the legs.

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– 6 –

Stitch skirt from the groin area, leave a tail.

Knot (once) end of thread.

Leave the end loose leaving hips and part of thighs.

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– 7 –

Spread the sides and leave middle part (groin) covered.

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– 8 –

The colour choice is inspired by a leopard skin.

Yellow is to represent gold, for a wealthy King.

Below: Violet Nantume ‘dressing up’ Speke’s drawing of Ssekabaka Muteesa.

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Above: Speke’s recipe to make a watercolour of ‘the East-African landscape’, executed by Dutch artist Herman van Hoogdalem.

 

Those who do want to see an ‘undressed’ (low resolution) version of Speke’s drawing can find it here.

 

Below: Detail of one of Violet Nantume’s ‘Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa’.

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Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa feature April 8th; Eria Sane Nsubuga, and modes of provocation.

 

 

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Above: Installation shot of Eria Sane Nsubuga’s exhibition ‘Mukaabya’s legacy’, at Afri-Art Gallery, October/November 2016.

One of the first artists to respond to my request to make their version of Stanley’s Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa was Eria Sane Nsubuga. He did not only make one picture, but based a extensive body of work on the photograph and the history it is part of. Parts of the series have been shown in South Africa, Paris, and in a solo show at Afri-Art Gallery titled ‘Mukaabya’s Legacy.’ In the upcoming show at Makerere University there are three works on display, made exclusively for the exhibition. In a chat conversation Eria and I discussed our takes

In the text published with Mukaabya’s Legacy there is this sentence: ‘”inspired in this body of works by Andrea Stultiens’ studies on the impact and place of photographs on the Ugandan psyche.” Is that how you think of what I do? Study the impact and place of photographs on the Ugandan phsyche?

Not necessarily, I thought the revisiting of history was bound to create some intellectual or social reactions assuming that the audiences actually realise what is going on. The print media here have been quite counterproductive in terms of engaging proper readership on the arts in general. The idiots decided to classify us, artists, as entertainment.

Is that related to why you paint on newspapers?

I hook myself to the printed form of Ugandan media without permission from the media. I like that position. Taking from them even before they allow me to take. I am not begging them to listen to me but I say what I want to say about them. I have no faith in the media.

Below: Eria Sane Nsubuga, “Passion of the Christ”, 70 ×100cm, 2016

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Why does Anne Frank show up in one of the works in Mukaabya’s legacy? Or rather, a photograph of her that you render in your picture.

I like the idea of black skins sharing the political space with white people, yellow people, etc. in the narratives of history. I use famous people of various origins in this work. Anne Frank and Mickey Cohen are in some way depicted as part of the tormentors of Christ. Possibly a black skinned Christ. The legacy for us is the confusion over the introduction of a Europeanised Christianity in Uganda that is not recognised by the white Jews in Europe. There seems to be many interesting points here. Why was a religion that is not recognisable in Israel at that time and today introduced as a Christ religion? For me looking at suggestions of his ancestry offer me some light, hazy though it may be, in Africa.

I hope to interest the Baganda in some way. After all I am deconstructing their ‘sacred’ history. And I am also revisiting the place of privilege that Buganda offered itself in the colonial project. How Bunyoro was destroyed for resistance, while Buganda was rewarded for selling the rest of what became Uganda to the colonisers.

Provocation is an important part of the deconstruction of history. It is a violent process and the media is a material in that process. Just like history is a material. Both can be manipulated and revisited. Provocation is not only negative, it can also be positive. In Luganda that would be something like ‘okusomoza’, to challenge, to give something to think about. Negative provocation is more pejorative. In Luganda ‘okunyiiza’, to make angry or to offend. Provocation depends unfortunately on the kind of audience addressed. I can not control the audience’s reaction. I do not look for ‘okunyiiza’ too much. But I prefer an angry reaction to no reaction, to being ignored. Engagement and provocation are two sides of the same coin. They both have a place in my study of power play, history and art.

Below: Black and white detail of one of Eria Sane Nsubuga’s Ebifananyi Kya Muteesa.

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Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa feature April 7th; Migisha Boyd and other Universes.

 

 

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While most artists who interpreted Stanley’s photograph focus on Kabaka Muteesa, the central figure in the photograph, Migisha Boyd (B40Deeps) makes the men around Muteesa as important as the Kabaka himself.

In this painting a lot of dreams I have came together. I’m into storytelling. Comic books, animation, film eventually. The end came to the beginning. In the picture, all the characters tie in from different parts of Africa, and the world. It’s an African story we are yet to tell.

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This is a particular screenshot of time in the entire universe. The created (fictional) universe. Muteesa’s chiefs were never all the same. A man of that much power needed a diverse team to carry out his reign, especially with colonialists and traders and missionaries coming in and out of his gates.

The diversity is portrayed in the different “times” and “manner” of the chiefs he has. As his name, Empologoma ya Buganda, the Lion of Buganda suggests, it was fitting to give a king such as him his lion “coat” which is made of an animal he killed and skinned as his rite of passage to kingship.

Below: Detail of Migisha Boyd (B40Deep)’s Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa, before colouring.

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Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa feature April 6th; Wasswa Donald and multiple Muteesas

 

 

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Above: Wasswa Donald in his studio

 

There is something about Wasswa Donald’s drawings that intrigues me. Nobody ever ends, everything is connected. I asked him to make a drawing based on Speke’s photograph of Muteesa. He did not just make one, but a whole series. The biggest one was sold almost instantly. The Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa exhibition shows four small variations to the theme. 

 

When I look at that photograph I only see Muteesa. He is the one who matters, all the others just happen to be there, but the photograph is really only ‘of him’. So that is also what I drew, Muteesas; a fierce one, a sweet one, a square one, and one wearing flowers. 

 

Below: a detail of one of Wasswa Donald’s Muteesas

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Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa feature April 5th: Eva Dembe’s crafted details.

 

 

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Above: Eva Dembe examining a print of Stanley’s photograph of Muteesa.

 

Eva Dembe is my Ugandan Jajja Kaddu Wasswa’s partner, a mother and a farmer. She runs a household and is very skill-full when it comes to the traditional craft of weaving. She would never call herself an artist. But, having seen her creativity, I invited her to be part of the project. When I popped the question she said she was not sure it was something she could do. She nevertheless took up the challenge and made a small embroidery. The piece is an example of a radical translation of the photograph into another material without changing its appearance. At the same time, through the variation it offers, Dembe’s version makes it possible to become aware of what the photograph does and does not show.

The intense colours of the robes that the men in Dembe’s embroidery wear made me aware of both the differences and the resemblances between a past and present day decorum of the Buganda Kingdom. When and how, for instance, did the fez translate into the highly decorated head wear Kabaka Mutebi is known to wear? 

Below; black and white detail of (colour) embroidery by Eva Dembe.

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Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa feature April 4th: Timothy Erau’s realistic light painting.

 

 

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Above: Timothy Erau exploring H.M. Stanley’s photograph with his eyes, his camera and his hands

When I gave Timothy Erau a copy of Stanley’s photograph, he closely examined it. Brought it closer to his face, took some distance. Then, and this was more surprising to me, he turned it upside down. He took a very formal approach, while he is one of the few people contributing to this project who are working mainly with photographs. His pictures are Photo Graphs (light writings) in the most literal sense of the word.

My pictures are paintings- or, even more precisely, drawings with light. I imagine the scene I want to show. Then I stage it, first as a test, maybe just with aspects of the whole picture I want to make. I test what different lights, shining onto and moving over the surfaces that are photographed will do.

It has to be dark. The shutter stays open. And I move around, wearing black clothes, with a variety of lights; laser pens, torches, my phone… Later, looking at what the camera registered, I see what the light does, think about it some more and eventually stage the whole scene.

Most of the pictures I make are colour, but this one ended up to be black and white. The colour made it too surreal and ghostly. While I wanted this to look real.

Below, a detail of Timothy Erau’s contribution to ‘Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa’

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Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa is on display from April 14th till May 14th 2017. It includes contributions from (in alphabetical order):

Andrea Stultiens, Canon Griffin, Daudi Karungi, Eria Nsubuga, Eva Dembe, Fred Ndaula, Henry Mzili Mujunga, Ian Mwesiga, Margaret Nagawa, Martha Namutosi, Matt Kayem, Migisha Boyd, Nathan Omiel, Odama Jacob, Papa Shabani, Piloya Irene, Ronex Ahimbisbwe, Sanaa Gateja, Timothy Erau, Violet Nantume, Wasswa Donald.

During the opening of the exhibition on April 13th Timothy Erau will make one of his ‘light paintings’ of a performance/installation with and by Martha Namutosi / Piloya Irene / Nathan Omiel / Sanaa Gateja and students from UCU Mukono.

Ekifananyi Kya Muteesa was curated by Andrea Stultiens with Robinah Nansubuga, Martha Kazungu and Canon Griffin. A book featuring the work of all the participating artists will be published later in 2017.

Please note:

A free copy of the photograph made by Henry Morton Stanley can be picked up by visitors to the exhibition as long as the printrun lasts. Visitors are requested to help spread the presence of the photograph in Uganda by photographing it in their respective houses and, in turn sharing that photograph on the HIPUganda facebook page.

On April 29th Maisha Moto, the monthly talks at Maisha Gardens in Buziga, will be devoted to HIPUganda’s Ekifananyi publications. The afternoon’s motto is ‘How to have a conversation with the past’, and will include discussions with Henry Mzili Mujunga, Violet Nantume, Canon Griffin and Andrea Stultiens. 

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