Between 6 August and 17 September 2017 Othello De'Souza-Hartley undertook a Fellowship at 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust.
Othello De'Souza-Hartley gives an account of his time at 32° East:
Before I went on the residency at 32° East Ugandan Arts Trust, I had decided to approach it without any preconceived ideas of Africa, particularly Uganda. I had only ever made one previous visit to the continent, (Morocco) a few years ago. The only thing I had in mind about Uganda was the red soil, which became the inspiration for my research.
I developed my project by engaging with artists based in Kampala or born in Uganda, by going to talks, and looking at local materials and traditions. One thing that became apparent was the belief that it was time for Africans to start telling their own stories. I met people who were aware of the fact that prominent traditional materials and points of pride are being eroded in favour of more modern materials and consumption. They were taking traditional materials and bringing back awareness to them by finding new contemporary uses for them. This was the base of my project, exploring how to use the materials in a modernised way.
Uganda has a very high youth population. The majority of Uganda's population is under 35 and it is the second youngest country on the continent. They want change and are fed up with Uganda being exploited and with the negative portrayal of Africa by the West. Ugandans have a government that has been in power for longer than most of the younger generation have been alive. I met lots of talented people who wanted to contribute to building their country but felt they were being held back by the infrastructure and the government.
My project resulted in set up of an installation/photo booth made from local materials used in a contemporary way, which was built organically through research and an open door policy where passers-by could come in and engage in dialogue, spend time in the space and be photographed once the installation was built.
About 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust
Based in Kampala, Uganda 32º East provides the arts community with the information, resources and exposure needed to raise the profile of Ugandan Art to a national and international level. 32º East offers an artist’s Resource Centre, 3 artists’ studios and an exhibition space; and runs a programme of discussions, debates and conversational projects addressing topical issues concerning the artistic community.
32° East hosts KLA ART, a public contemporary art festival in Kampala, Uganda. KLA ART Labs are a month-long series of intensive engagement focused on group critique, international networking and concept development; all within the realm of public art.