Between August - September 2017 UK-based artist Mo Sirra travelled to Kampala, Uganda as part of Triangle Fellowship at 32º East.
From the beginning of his career Mo Sirra has adopted a way of working that rejects conclusions and articulates intentions. He has, that is, put the idea of rehearsal at the heart of his practice. His interdisciplinary practice-based research investigates the parameters of proposal versus object, the mechanics of language and the ambiguity of meaning and perceiving. He produces complex and diverse work that includes installation art, intervention, sculpture, drawing, photography, video and performance as “a sort of discursive argument”, and creating techniques for mediating the public’s reactions to art and its contexts. His research questions are based on observations of how society has changed over 20 years. For example, how does globalisation or the creation of online communities affect art practice? How can we create space for interpretation and reflection in a continuously demanding environment? We cannot experience a cultural product if we do not understand the forces that affect its practice.
Sirra's research emphasizes the employment of the richness, diversity, and depth of cultures to animate art concepts in a socio-political context. In the realm of globalized ideas of progress, art have come to express a certain degree of sameness around the world. We wherefore need more than ever to understand and cherish all cultural diversities and contributions of various cultures and societies. His research questions the conventional notions of progress, modernity and tradition; it views contemporary art as not as an international movement of style which can be located within one specific culture, one single history or space, but rather as a set of cultural translations. In this context, it becomes evident that the concept of author-artist needs to be expanded to an initiator of settings who provides space and process that is open to changes.
Waiting for the elephant to alight in a tree is an interdisciplinary practice-based research project addressing the pre-conceived notions of cityscape, architecture and habitat within the context of 32° East, contemporary public art festival KLA ART, and the city of Kampala. It creates site-specific objects using the city, varied environments, and their different ecologic complexities as a point of departure. The project reflects on the potential of cityscape and promotes alternative perceptions and scenarios. It intends to generate situations of interaction with the public to address local and global issues: developing a process of exploration and experimentation, building bridges for trans-disciplinary work – using traditional media – in a non-traditional setting. It aims to develop vital techniques for mediating the public’s reactions to art and its contexts. It seeks to surprise and inspire public while promoting critical, long term thinking about the role of art in today's society.
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.