• ‘The Pusher’ | Lusaka, Zambia

    Multi-faceted artist George Mubanga presents his spectacular, land-based sculptural installation and discusses the inspiration for this large-scale work.

    When I was growing up and ever since, things have been difficult in society.  To survive, one must be strong.

    I give thanks to my mum and sister, who have been my greatest supporters.  When I was low my mum used to say “Be strong.  You have to keep pushing to make ends meet and earn a living from what you do.”  At first, they were just words to me, but with time I came to realize that every person is in charge of their own destiny.  It’s up to you to make the life you want, through the steps that you take now. If you don’t push, nothing moves.

    When meeting more accomplished artists, I found that some were harsh and didn’t take me seriously, but a few encouraged me to keep working hard. With time, my artwork started to receive the respect and love that I never imagined.

    I made ‘The Pusher’ to represent the struggles that everyone goes through in life. It’s never easy to achieve your goals, but with determination, hope and patience all is possible.



    'Self Portrait' | Mixed media on canvas

     

     

     

    ABOUT THE ARTIST

    George Mubanga is a self taught artist. He finished High School in 2013 and he has an art practice and studio in Lusaka, Zambia. He is a member of the Visual Arts Council and the Art Academy without Walls, both in Lusaka.

     

     

     

     

  • ‘Sense of Kin’ by Aleksandr Lialiushkin | St. Petersburg, Russia

    Working across the genres of land-art, digital media, found objects and installation, Russian-based artist Aleksandr Lialiushkin discusses his deeply-reflective two-year project (2018-2020). “Sense of Kin” embodies his feelings of personal loss of connection to kin, as the distance grows from his current life in St. Petersburg to the small village where he grew up.

     

    I'm from the little village of Buturlino in the district of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Russia. I have a big family; almost all of them live in this village near Nizhny Novgorod. We meet once a year, and I feel we are starting to lose contact.

    'Sense of Kin' Installation | totem poles
    'Holes I' | Digital collage (series)

    The work “Sense of kin” was created in Buturlino. There are three ‘totem poles’ made of wood boards with little holes in them. These boards represent small walls of disconnection in my family, disconnection in other families, and disconnection itself. The holes in the boards are symbols of ‘memory loss’ and feelings of ‘flowing away’ from my family and my sense of kinship.

    'Holes II' | Digital collage (series)

    The digital series “Holes” includes four collages based on my photos taken in Buturlino. Two of them show the courtyard of my grandparent’s house, and the other two are from the maternity hospital where I was born. They have the same ‘hole pattern’ of land-art swapped out between two of the photos. It shows the puzzle -- my ‘curve of losing the memory’.

    Every piece of this project is my personal story. Even wood boards used in the land art were found among the ruins of the old bath. Fearing disconnection from my family, I made an object with the fourth board and brought it with me to St. Petersburg,

    'Holes III' | Digital collage (series)
    'Holes IV' | Digital collage (series)

    This project contains land art, digital collages, and objects.

    'Sense of Kin' 2018

    During the installation of this piece, the rain came.

    Untitled | Digital photograph

    I see my personal story as a sequence of moving from point to point, trying to raise my quality of living. After two years, I returned to “Sense of Kin” in 2020, thinking about my village in Nizhny Novgorod as the first point.

    In the project, a concentrating meditative action faces an anarchic off-system desire to break down everything. I want the audience to see the metaphysic gradient of two opposite points and ask themselves: "Where am I, and who are my kin?".

    'Sense of Kin' 2020


     

     

     

    About the Artist

    Aleksandr Lialiushkin currently resides in St. Petersburg and works with photography, video, installation, fine arts and performance. He graduated from the School of Contemporary Art “Paideia” in 2016. He began to take part in exhibitions with his project “Men and Words” (2014) and “Plastic” (2018) in Millipiani Art Space in Rome.  Nowadays, Aleksandr works with textiles and photography, and he exhibits in St. Petersburg as well as in other countries around  the world. 

     

     

     

  • ‘Journey of the Passer-by’ | New Delhi, India

    Mixed media artist Gopa Roy discusses her recent series concerned with issues of migration in India during times of the pandemic.  Inspired by local landscapes and people, as well as organic materials, her work is propelled by perplexing questions and humanitarian concerns.  

    I usually work with the landscape, creating land art, geographically embracing nature, as well as the people who are involved in it. I am interested in how people live and  perform day-to-day activities within the environment. Thus my ‘Journey of the Passer-by’ is about the toil of the migrant workers residing and earning their  living in different parts of India.

    Today we can see how contagion, spreading from one person to another, has caused a pandemic around the world. This consequential issue and the vulnerability of the current situation is a focus for my work in this series. It emphasizes the migrants’ situation with issues of losing jobs and shelter--fighting for the sustenance of life. They are walking along the roads,  with different means and the aim of finding home, to feel safe. Though they started their  journey with hope and custody of a safe home: Is it still there? Are they going to face more  consequences after they reach their destination? Are more challenges in life waiting for them? These  questions were hammering my mind, and these queries were taken up in this series.

    In my work I have tried to show the journey of the common man through the change of time, space, and land. Therein, this entire process in quarantine leads me to the collection of materials from my  surroundings for use in this work.  I use natural fibres from vegetables, fruits, jute, hay, etc.  I explore different shapes and sizes, initiated and enhanced by my own reflective thoughts. Hence, the shift in physical form came from consideration of the current situation and its profound impact on the lives we are living.

    Artwork Medium: Straw Pulp, Fruits & Vegetables fiber, dry leaf, jute, gi wire ink & watercolor.

     


    ABOUT THE ARTIST

    Gopa Roy was born and raised in Tripura, India, and is currently living and maintaining her art practice in New Delhi. The primary influences in her work are local landscapes, harmonization of multi-cultural identities and the craft of the native peoples. During her MFA studies, she first explored the process of paper making from natural fiber--bamboo leaves, banana leaves, canes, etc., that she engages in her work. The suburban landscape of Santiniketan and Birbhum first inspired her to develop the process of cartography, based on experience and visual memories. She continues to engage metaphors of connection employing map and road imagery within her work.
    Gopa holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the Govt. College  of Art & Craft in Tripura and an MFA from the Department of Painting from Kala Bhavana, Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, West Bengal.
  • ‘Living in Digital Utopias’: On Existing and Art-Making | Tanzania

    EAS correspondent Valerie Amani writes about her conversation with artist Arafa C. Hamadi, a non-binary artist from Tanzania. Their discussion centers on Arafa’s art practice, exploring themes of identity, body and belonging within digital media and virtual spaces.

    'Self Portrait in Isolation' | Digital

    “Hello, I’m Arafa. I am a non-binary artist, living.” Those are the words that greet you as you enter Arafa’s digital Artist Residency page – the word ‘living’ lingering, almost rebelliously.

    In this instance, what does it mean to live? Living as your true self in a society that has carved you out to be an ‘other’, ceases to be just living; it becomes an act of resistance. As a self-identifying queer, non-binary artist, Arafa makes part of a necessary ecosystem of East African artists who just want to live.

    'Lacework' | Video Still

    In their artistic practice, Arafa explores themes of belonging, identity and body through digital media and virtual spaces. As a fellow Tanzanian artist, who understands the cultural implications of ‘living’ as an act of resistance, I was curious to know more about their work and how it has shaped the way they interact with the world.

    Arafa takes me through their artistic journey, starting from a high school assignment that led to their first encounter with anatomy through the works of Peter Elungat - an artist whose work playfully represents the body. They also mention how intimidating it was when shifting from primarily working as a graphic and set designer that received briefs, to having no briefs or guidance as an independent artist.

    On asking Arafa what has come to be their artistic process, they commented on how much their process changes depending on their location and what is happening in their life.

    “I’ve moved away from my previous more methodical process. It was terrifying creating my own work – what do you do without a brief? [they laugh] I have found that the confusion and questioning of the self at the beginning of creating, has become my art. My process has been about reflection, and what questions I have been asking myself, then finding artworks that have been answering these questions – artists I follow on Instagram, my friends. I interrogate myself; I find precedence; then I let myself ‘vomit’ [they laugh] this physical artwork out.”

    The metaphorical “vomiting” alludes to how Arafa aims to use the rawest version of their feelings and emotions without much editing; their works coming across as intimate and vulnerable virtual diary entries. In one of their earlier pieces, a poem titled 'I,'I Arafa writes:

    “I, 

    I am not a ringing noise 

                   screeching over the night, like a siren, 

                   an unbolted screw yearning for deliverance, as if your hand alone 

                  can hold me in place.”

    'I, I, The Digital Self' | Digital

    This piece was written before they identified as non-binary and paired with a video they recently made. The combination of past and present work are significant in how we reflect upon changing identities.

    “In the piece I read out a poem – I am interpreting an Arafa that existed then. The Arafa that existed then did not identify as non-binary, but had felt that they were at the cusp of understanding and somehow moving away from womanhood. Me reading the poem, I can relate to that person.”

    It is evident that the self is at the center of Arafa’s work, a self that despite having to find ways of existing beyond the physical, still has a tangible sense of acceptance and self-awareness. On speaking about how they have used digital media and the internet, it is clear that the digital realm has provided a means in which they can live.

    “As non-binary people, according to the government, we do not exist. We are not counted in the census. I cannot report a hate crime against me – I would get arrested for being homosexual. The only place I can claim myself is the internet. I can put the rainbow flag in my bio and I can write about my experience on the internet without feeling too unsafe. And if I do feel unsafe, I can delete it, and it becomes non-existent again.”

    'Kujiona' | Video Still

    This is another act of necessary resistance, resisting being silenced; especially when your voice and history is one that has been stifled before. Arafa is conscious about the role that art plays in how we remember - one of their most recent art pieces being an amalgamation of the present and past. It is an old Swahili Dhow, painted and covered in symbols including the non-binary symbol.

    The piece is fittingly titled, Kujiona, which is Swahili for “to see oneself”. The work is accompanied by a video piece in which Arafa converses with a local man who also identifies as Queer, their conversation centering on the history of homosexuality around the Swahili coast.

    'Kujiona Dhow' | Painted Wood

    “The conversation starts with me saying, I feel like we have no queer history, but then eventually we realize that it’s there! It’s there because we have the [Swahili] words for it. It’s there because there is this taboo that surrounds it. It’s there because my grandmother’s homophobia is specifically different from western homophobia. [It’s there] even in spiritual stories of the baobab and the ocean; maybe those are queer stories. I see myself in those stories and, thus, I claim them for myself.”

    There is a certain peace that comes with being seen and being acknowledged, a peace as a result of not having to constantly tell people who you are, but knowing that they just see you. At the heart of Arafa’s work, they are showing us who they were and who they are - while encouraging us to do the same - show ourselves.

    Ararfa - ICA exhibition page

    “If we can see ourselves, and we are inspired by the stories that we hear and the history that we learn… is it so bad to want to see [more of] ourselves so badly that we start creating our own stories?”

    In Arafa’s latest work Letu, a product of an online fellowship with the Institute of Creative Arts (Cape Town), they have not only created their own story but also built their own world, their “utopia”. In this work Arafa uses the virtual space to live freely, combining their favorite sounds and landscapes where both Arafa and another non-binary friend exist, captured digitally - forever in a state of peace.

    As a final reflection on the importance of living, especially living as a person who creates, I ask Arafa what advice they would give to artists who are in a space in which they do not feel seen. Arafa answers by saying that one should keep identifying moments that feel important to them and record those moments by whatever means possible. “Yourself, and your own experience is a worthy subject to explore over and over again,” they say, and I agree.

    'LETU' | Video Still

    As artists we have this wonderful gift that allows us to manufacture worlds, write truths and make our own history - it is vital to remember that we are important, that the work we do is important. It is vital to keep living, to keep resisting against governments that isolate and ignore queer bodies, that criminalize ways of existing. It is vital that we keep building the realities we want to exist in, even if that means starting online first.


    Photo Credit: Thea Gourdon

    ABOUT THE ARTIST

    Arafa Cynthia Hamadi is a multidisciplinary artist working in Tanzania and Kenya. They create artwork in various mediums that address the intersections of the conceptual and the physical, as well as the ephemeral and the permanent, in hopes of provoking their visitors into considering their daily realities. Arafa’s work also explores their queerness in relation to space and occupancy. They work in the realms of 3D design, graphic design, sculpture, architecture and sound.
    More of Arafa’s work can be seen through their portfolio and on Instagram: @arafabuilds  

     

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Valerie Asiimwe Amani is a Tanzanian artistic explorer who uses words to paint pictures, pictures to deconstruct daily interventions of emotion and emotion to create videos. She is currently an MFA candidate at The University of Oxford, researching and creating work around the intersection between art and modern spiritual practices.
    Instagram: @ardonaxela | website: www.valerieamani.com

     

  • ‘Deewaar Ke Piche’ (Behind the Wall) | Kolkata, India

    Artist Pritwish Daw presents and discusses his layered mixed-media project, recently included in EAS’s Calling Across the Distance exhibition.  Here he reflects on issues and questions embedded in the work--opening awareness while provoking deeper looking, re-consideration and understanding.

     

    'Deewaar Ke Piche' | Acrylic on digital print board paper | 8x10 inches | 2020

    What does it mean to ‘Call across the distance’?

    ‘Distance’ is such a word which, after hearing it, you have to take a pause or a sudden break. In our society today, there are many such distances or invisible walls which we always maintain--some are absolutely unnecessary and yet exist. The social media storm has eradicated any distance between two people who are absolutely unrelated yet connected. Funnily though, the very medium has created distance among those who actually are in close proximity at ever increasing rates.

    'Deewaar Ke Piche' (Detail)

     

    Distance also means the lack of understanding or the ability to grip a concept that exists in society. For example, we still shun away from eunuchs but ask for them to be acknowledged as the "third gender" on social networks -- that is quite the "social distancing". Our education system, that gives us our basic education, is weak. It does not have enough strength to even help us bridge our own minor gaps in understanding.

    'Deewaar Ke Piche' (Detail)

    But never lose hope.  All the small changes in our society, that we get to know, are the achievements of the educated that can lead to enlightenment.

    'Deewaar Ke Piche' (Detail)

     

     

     

    'Deewaar Ke Piche II' (Detail)

    What is the life of a sex worker?

    Prostitution is the oldest business that was ever conducted and does not have any form of social respect. It is such a profession that can never be shut down, even if tried at any and all levels. Prostitutes are members the society will always be separate and never acknowledged as a part of the societal construct. The hunger of the flesh and the lusty desire of many draw them to those who provide this service. This has been going on, to the best of my knowledge, since the beginning of the East India Company in the heart of the British capital, Calcutta or Kolkata, known as a Sonagachi. We have two responses, when we face them in the eye of society, to walk past in shame or just look and not respond. No civil man, from any walk of life, can deny the subtle enjoyment they derive when they behold their revealing flesh, but they lack the courage to do anything further than walk away. North Kolkata’s Sonagachi district is Asia’s largest red light area. Many movies, documentaries, web series and books have been spawned to articulate this realty, but one can never really fathom what the life of sex worker is truly like.

    'Deewaar Ke Piche II'

    What does ‘education’ really mean?

    The term ‘education’ doesn’t have one universal meaning for all. Bookish and social knowledge both play a big part in how we grow up to become  functional members of society. Those who we consider educated people sometimes commit acts that are absolutely unimaginable from such a person. Education can be an allegorical term that is not understood by everyone. India possesses both highly qualified individuals and mediocre individuals who have protested for many issues but never, in true essence, for education.

    We have imitated many things from the West and others but have not been able to grip the base of what education really means.

    'Deewaar Ke Piche II' (Detail)
    'Deewaar Ke Piche II' (Detail)





     

     

     

     

     

     

     



     

     

     

    ABOUT THE ARTIST

    Prithwish Daw lives in Kolkata, where he earned a BFA from the Indian College
    of Art and Draftsmanship. His work has been shown in numerous group shows,
    including a group project at the Kochi-Student Biennal, as well as
    Emergent Art Space’s 2017 “Translations” exhibition in Kolkata and
    2020 international online exhibition “Calling Across the Distance”.

     

     

  • ‘Kutoka Canvas kwenda Digitali’ | Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    Emergent Art Space is delighted to publish here in Swahili the article about the workshop ‘Kutoka Canvas kwenda Digitali’ which we featured on this site on January 20.

     

    Wachoraji wa sanaa za uoni washauriwa kutumia teknolojia kuwa washindani, kuendeleza nchi.

    Wachoraji wa sanaa za uoni Tanzania wameshauriwa kutumia ujuzi wao kulinda na kutunza mila na utamaduni wa nchi na hivyo kuchangia kufikiwa kwa maendeleo endelevu.

    Wito huo umetolewa wakati wa warsha ya siku mbili iliyoitwa ‘Kutoka Canvas kwenda Digitali’ iliyoendeshwa jijini Dar es Salaam hivi karibuni.

    Warsha hiyo ni sehemu ya mradi wa ‘Hapo Zamani za Kale’ unaolenga kutunza na kuendeleza utamaduni wa asili wa Mwafrika wa kusimulia hadithi kwa kutumia njia za kisasa za sayansi na teknolojia kwa kutumia vitabu vya watoto, na kuchora miongoni mwa nyingine.

    Mradi wa 'Hapo Zamani za Kale' unatekelezwa na shirika lisilo la kiserikali la 'Aqua Farms Organization' (AFO) kwa ufadhili wa shirika la Voice Global.

    Akiongea wakati wa kufunga warsha hiyo, mmoja wa watayarishaji wa mafunzo hayo, Elizabeth Mwambulukutu alisema wasanii hao wachoraji wa sanaa za uoni wana nafasi muhimu katika kuitangaza Tanzania duniani, kuhifadhi sanaa na utamaduni wetu kwa vizazi vijavyo na kuelimisha watoto kupitia sanaa hizo kwani watoto huweza kuelewa haraka na kukumbuka walichojifunza kupitia michoro na kuongeza ubunifu.

    “Kukua kwa teknolojia kunatoa nafasi kubwa kwa sanaa hizi kuchangia maendeleo ikiwemo kuhifadhi tamatuni zetu na kazi za sanaa” alisema, na kuongeza kuwa “tungependa kuwahamasisha wanawake na walemavu kushiriki kwa wingi katika eneo hilo la sanaa za uoni , hata wale wachanga.”

    Mafunzo hayo yalilenga kuwajengea uwezo wa kidigitali kwa vitendo wasanii ili waweze kuwa washindani katika karne ya 21, na pia kuwafungulia milango ya mafanikio kwa kuwataarifu kuhusiana na fursa mbalimbali zilizopo katika soko kitaifa na kimataifa.

    Mafunzo hayo yalihudhuriwa na jumla ya washiriki 16 ikiwa ni pamoja na wasanii wa kazi za mikono, wadau kutoka mradi wa Hapo Zamani za Kale na AFO pamoja na mtaalamu wa lugha za alama kutoka Umoja wa Wataalamu wa Lugha za Alama Tanzania (TASLI).

    Wasanii hao waliopatikana baada ya kushindanishwa walijumuisha wanaume watatu na wanawake watatu kutoka mikoa ya Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Iringa na Tanga.

    Katika mafunzo hayo, msanii maarufu wa katuni, maarufu kama Masoud Kipanya aliwaongoza kwa vitendo wasanii hao sita namna mpya ya kufanya kazi zao tofauti na njia za asili za kuchora walizozowea.

    Mmoja wa waanzilishi wa mradi wa Hapo Zamani za Kale, Annastazia Gura alisema bado wasanii wa Afrika wanatumia njia za asili katika kufanya kazi zao. Hali hiyo, alisema, inasababisha wasanii kuachwa nyuma katika zama hizi za teknolojia na kuwa kikwazo katika kuchangamkia fursa na kuwa washindani wa kweli.

    Pia, ilibainika kuwa wasanii hasa wachoraji kwa sasa wanategemea aina ya soko moja tu la watalii na hivyo kusababisha vipato vyao kuwa finyu.

    “Bado wasanii hapa nyumbani hawana fursa za kujifunza toka kwa wale waliofanikiwa kutokana na ubunifu wao,” alisema Bi. Gura.

    Bi. Gura alisema tayari maendeleo ya teknolojia yanaendelea kusababisha mabadiliko makubwa katika sekta nyingine na kwamba wakati umefika kwa wasanii kufaidika pia.

    “Tunaona warsha hii ya mafunzo kama njia bora ya wasanii kupata ujuzi mpya na kubuni namna mpya za kukuza vipato,” alisema.

    Mbali na wasanii hao kukutana na Masoud Kipanya, mafunzo hayo pia yalikuwa ni nafasi kwo kukutana na kubadilishana uzoefu, kukuza ujuzi kwa kutumia teknolojia na kukuza mtandao baina yao.

    Masoud Kipanya alielezea umuhimu wa wasanii wa Tanzania kuwa tayari na wepesi wa kubadilika kuendana na maendeleo ya teknolojia. Alisema: “Kama wasanii ni muhimu kusoma alama za nyakati, lazima tujifunze kubadilika kama vinyonga.”

    Mmoja wa washiriki, Jennifer Msekwa alisema: “Kama wasanii wa kisasa, tunatakiwa kujifunza mbinu nyingi ili kuweza kushindana katika ulimwnegu wa sasa wa sayansi na teknolojia.”

    Masoud alifafanua zaidi kuwa tofauti na njia za asili za kuchora, matumizi ya teknolojia humpa nafasi kubwa msanii kuboresha kazi yake, kuwa na ubora zaidi na kuokoa muda.

    Albano Sylvester, mshiriki mwenye ulemavu katika mafunzo hayo alielezea furaha yake baada ya kupata msaada wa mtaalamu wa lugha ya alama na hivyo kushiriki kikamilifu kama wenzake.

    Mwisho



     

     

    Elizabeth Mwambulukutu is a development communications practitioner and an award winning visual artist committed to shaping the African narrative. She serves as the Regional Communications Manager for WaterAid in East Africa. Elizabeth is driven to advancing Tanzania's creative industry through the restoration, preservation and promotion of authentic African stories. Elizabeth is the co-founder of Arts and Culture for Development Africa (AC4D) and the creative mind behind Elle Emmanuel Photography. She's a Mandela Washington Fellow, Vice Curator for Arusha Global Shapers and Fellow of the Young and Emerging Leaders Project, an initiative of the LéO Africa Institute.

     

     


    FURTHER INFORMATION LINKS
    Hapo Zamani za Kale    ||    AquaFarms Organisation - AFO    ||    Arts and Culture for Development (AC4D)
  • Digital Art, Storytelling and Empowerment | Tanzania

    EAS correspondent and Tanzanian-based creative Elizabeth Mwambulukutu reports on an empowering  2-day digital canvas workshop dubbed "Kutoka Canvas Kwenda Digitali", held in Dar es Salaam in December.  As co-founder of Arts and Culture for Development Africa (AC4D)¹ and of the storytelling project "Hapo Zamani za Kale", Elizabeth helped to facilitate and organize this workshop.

     

    Well-known Tanzanian cartoonist Masoud Kipanya teaching workshop participants how technology can be used to improve their artwork | Photo Credit: Hapo Zamani za Kale

    "Kutoka Canvas Kwenda Digital" [From Canvas to Digital] Workshop 

    Art is never static. Due to globalization and technological advancements, various industries around the world consistently experience disruptions in their practice and, like its counterparts, art is no exception.

    Realizing this challenge, renowned cartoonist and media personality Masoud Kipanya teamed up with the "Hapo Zamani za Kale" [Once Upon a Time] cultural storytelling project, using his journey as an artist to support, mentor and inspire six young Tanzanian artists through a practical workshop that exposed them to new art practices beyond the canvas.  “Art is like a tree with many branches into which artists can venture and explore.” were Kipanya’s opening words to the Kutoka Canvas Kwenda Digital workshop session. The workshop  is part of the "Hapo Zamani za Kale" (a project of Aqua Farms Organization-AFO²) that aims to preserve, restore and promote the culture and art of traditional storytelling and African stories in Tanzania using mixed and multimedia through children's storybooks, visual art, podcasts and animation.

    Workshop participants and presenters | Photo Credit: Hapo Zamani za Kale

    Currently and globally, COVID-19 has exposed many industries to vulnerabilities, forcing them to think  beyond business as usual. In the area of visual art, most African visual artists still rely on traditional techniques for practicing art. Such limitations may lead to a mismatch between emerging global trends, the changing creative economic landscape and existing art practices, which may also lead to African visual artists missing out on new opportunities.

    Many African visual artists depend on a single traditional art form (i.e. fine art/painting on canvas) or a single consumer market (i.e. tourists), limiting their access to income generation streams.  In Tanzania, visual artists have few platforms to learn practical skills from industry experts who have broken glass ceilings through their creativity.

    Participant exploring digital drawing methods | Photo Credit: Hapo Zamani za Kale

    Speaking about the workshop, facilitator Annastazia Gura, co-founder of "Hapo Zamani za Kale", said:  “We are thrilled to partner with Masoud Kipanya in exposing visual artists to new possibilities for expanding their art practice.  The workshop allowed artists to learn and apply new knowledge in using digital creative tools - a canvas, paint brush, palette knife and colour palette, to name a few. We have seen the effects of technological advancements in other sectors of the economy, it is high time we expand these to the creative industry.  This is exactly what inspired "Kutoka Canvas Kwenda Digitali". We see it as a pathway for visual artists to gain new skills and seek new avenues for generating income.”

    The workshop training presented an unparalleled opportunity for visual artists to not only meet a role model, but to share experiences, expand their expertise through the use of technology, make new professional connections and gain exposure to creative thought processes, such as creating storyboards. Kipanya emphasized the importance of visual artists being versatile, flexible and adaptable to changing technological advancements around the world. He said: “It is important that Tanzanian artists learn how to be like chameleons through their art practice [in order] to adjust to emerging trends and diversify their techniques.”

    Storyboard Assignment, first sketch

    Introducing the workshop’s objectives, Kipanya went on to say: “The objective of this workshop is to introduce you to the world of digital illustration. If you hear someone introducing themselves as an illustrator, do not be intimidated, because an illustrator is also a visual artist just like you. Before doing anything as a visual artist, you either sketch using paper and pen or using your creative mind.” The use of technology in art allows artists more flexibility compared to drawing on canvas using paints and brushes. For example, if an artist is exhibiting their work in a traditional fine art form, the digital version or presentation of their artwork will likely be an image taken of their artwork through their smartphones or an image scanned through a printer. This not only affects the quality of the digital version of an artwork but presents higher risks of damaging the work, if not handled correctly. Unlike drawing on canvas, the use of technology simplifies creative workflow, be it from resizing or repositioning objects/subject. Everything can be done through the use of technology, maintaining the quality of an artwork and saving time by enhancing the speed of the output. Advancements in technology also allow artists to get the feel of the making process through using the digital equivalent of artistic tools, be it canvas, paint, paint brush or palette knife.

    Storyboard Assignment - final sketch

    In Kipanya’s session on digital art and creation of a storyboard, the visual artists were put to the test using a storytale called Kima na Mamba read deliciously by the "Hapo Zamani za Kale" team.  The storytale was among those collected by the "Hapo Zamani za Kale" project in the Tanga region. Six visual artists teamed up to interpret, imagine and translate the storytale from words into imagery under the close supervision of the creative guru Masoud Kipanya.  The visual artists used six boxes, each representing a different scene from the storytale.

    Artist, Albano Sylvester, sketching artwork

    Workshop Participants, Benefits and Take-Aways

    The "Kutoka Canvas Kwenda Digitali" Workshop was attended by a total of 16 participants including visual artists, "Hapo Zamani za Kale" and Aqua Farms Organization team members and a sign language expert from Tanzania Association of Sign Language Interpreters (TASLI). Selected through a competitive call for artists, the cohort of artists selected from Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Iringa and Tanga regions included three male artists, George Emmanuel, Mustafa Sumaya, Albano Sylvester who is an artist living with a disability and three female artists Shija Masele, Jennifer Msekwa and Brenda Kibakaya.

    The workshop aimed to empower Tanzanian visual artists with digital skills, to compete in the 21st century. It provided artists with new opportunities for creating, showcasing and marketing their work. Lastly, it inspired and motivated emerging Tanzanian visual artists who learned about the journey and experience of an expert in the industry.


    Jennifer Msekwa, Tanzanian artist and environmental activist says: “As modern artists, we need to have skills that can help us to compete with today’s world of science and technology. As an artist from a developing country, I think it is important to add new skills, especially through digital technology from canvas to digital skills.” In her artwork she addresses issues of gender discrimination and depicts  African women who suffer from family duties without help from men.

    'Overwhelmed' by Jennifer Msekwa | Mixed media
    'Natural Elements' by Jennifer Msekwa | Acrylic on Paper

     


    Albano Sylvester, an artist living with a disability commented: “Having a disability and [the] challenge of being unable to communicate verbally, I often go to training and I am forced to use pen and paper in order to communicate. I am impressed to have found a sign language expert at this "Kutoka Kanvasi Kwenda Digitali" workshop which has allowed me to learn, participate fully and enjoy sessions like the rest of my fellow participants.”

    'Mama' by Albano Sylvester | Acrylic on canvas
    'Msasani Beach' by Albano Sylvester | Acrylic on canvas

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


    'Women in Power' by George Nyandiche | Mixed media on canvas | 75cm x 90 cm

     

     

     

    George Nyandiche, speaking about this work Women in Power says “Women are the ones who bring new beings to life.  Therefore, every new generation starts with a woman. The source to life.  Women are not as weak as society’s perception; they give birth to children and fight for them to survive and keep them safe.  Women are very powerful.  They persevere in difficult situations, care for others well-being and think critically about the benefits of everyone else within their families.”

     

     

     

     

     

    'Instrumental' by George Nyandiche | Oil and acrylic on canvas

    Artist Mustafa Sumaya, speaking about his own transition to digital art explained, “Digital arts/illustration is like killing three birds with one stone. Wherever you are, all you need is the internet connectivity. There is no need for colour mixing settings as the full colour printing of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (CMYK) is already matched, thus giving the artists the advantage of maintaining the quality of their work. Lastly, there is the discarded need for scanning of the artwork, thus allowing [for the] easy sharing of one's work.”

     

    Emergent Insights and Concluding Thoughts

    I. Artists should be at the frontline in preserving, restoring and promoting Tanzanian arts and culture.

    II. Visual artists have a role to play in contributing towards quality education given that visual learning is
    key to stimulate learning in young minds, enhance education materials and create comprehension ability.

    III. More opportunities are needed for women and persons living with disabilities in the area of visual art.

    IV. To this end, the advancement of technologies presents limitless possibilities for a creative to contribute
    towards this.

     

    Tanzania is rich in art and culture and our creative industry has great potential. We believe visual artists have a significant role to play when it comes to preserving, restoring and promoting our rich culture. This workshop has sparked new interest among participating artists. We see it as an opportunity for young men, women and persons living with disabilities to expand their horizons in the creative industry, while gaining exposure and mentorship from creative industry experts.



    1. AC4D is a Tanzanian initiative whose primary purpose is to use art to inspire, educate and provide opportunities to shape the future of creatives. AC4D uses artistic mediums to embrace cultural identity to shape community narratives.
    2. Aqua-Farms Organization is a non-governmental organization dedicated to replenishing aquatic resources with community-based conservation and sustainable aquaculture.


     

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Elizabeth Mwambulukutu is a development communications practitioner and an award winning visual artist committed to shaping the African narrative. She serves as the Regional Communications Manager for WaterAid in East Africa. Elizabeth is driven to advancing Tanzania's creative industry through the restoration, preservation and promotion of authentic African stories. Elizabeth is the co-founder of Arts and Culture for Development Africa (AC4D) and the creative mind behind Elle Emmanuel Photography. She's a Mandela Washington Fellow, Vice Curator for Arusha Global Shapers and Fellow of the Young and Emerging Leaders Project, an initiative of the LéO Africa Institute.

     

     


    FURTHER INFORMATION LINKS
    Hapo Zamani za Kale    ||    AquaFarms Organisation - AFO    ||    Arts and Culture for Development (AC4D)

     

  • ‘Studio Practice – Experiments with Memory and Material’ | West Bengal, India

    West Bengal artist, Subhadip Bhattacharya shares his recent work ‘Repairing My Old Memory’.  This work evolved from an exploratory studio process that moved beyond painting and canvas to find new expressive means with plaster, mashed paper, and fragments of story from his memory.

    “Repairing My Old Memory” (1) | Paper pulp, POP Archival Photograph, 2020

    I use the term 'practice' to describe performing my activity, skill and intellect in discourse with my artwork, where I’m not just practicing but making mistakes and learning from them. For me, my post graduation painting studio is not only for colours and canvases, but for challenging painterliness itself and pushing the limits of paper and colours. Engaging both memory and material, as means of expression, allow me to transform my ideas while imagining and reimagining. Sometimes this transformation process sings out from the expected to unexpected and vice versa.

    One can observe a gradual change or evolvement in my work from my earlier practice to now. My habit of writing diaries and the juxtaposition or objectification of those, were key to my earlier practices. The scroll of translation and narration turned to the exploration of memories of my own  day-to-day events and the stories told and retold by my surroundings--the oral stories collected in my memory. I questioned myself painting these stories on a surface with readymade colours and canvases. My satisfaction was in the making of my canvas itself, but it needs extra  research besides my own subjectivity.

    “Repairing My Old Memory” (2), detail

    “Repairing My Old Memory” (2) | paper pulp, plaster, text.

    I do experiments with the memory and material. While memory is about remembering or recollecting, it results in being a different story from the past, maybe a fragmented one. I explore this idea of fragmentation, unfolding the possibility of repair for longevity. In the case of material, I explore the surface, while making use of plaster of Paris with the mashed paper.  Working with the material, using my hands, gives a unique textural identity of creating my own surface. That is how I benefit from my amateur status of exploring a new technique. The surface in my work is a multi-layered, bumpy, pulpy mass on which I inscribe my fragmented memories in Bengali script, my mother tongue. The text in my work relates to the word play of my memory of experiences speaking directly to the viewer.

    My recent works of art are thus connected to making paper, printmaking and engaging the creative process while working with memories and shaping new forms out of it.


     

     

    ABOUT THE ARTIST

    Subhadip Bhattacharya lives in West Bengal, India. He has studied art through specialized and multidisciplinary workshops in India and received a BFA and MFA in painting from Visva Bharati University.  He has been awarded numerous scholarships and certificates of merit and his artwork has been included in group exhibitions and was recently featured in Emergent Art Space’s international online show “Calling Across the Distance”.

     

     

     

  • ‘Evolving New Artistic Paradigms’ | Sevilla, Spain

    Ramon was one the first young artists to join Emergent Art Space and he now serves as an Advisory Board member. He discusses here his early interest in art, as well as his discoveries, shifting aims, ideas and development as an artist concerned with making a better world.

     

    Untitled | India ink, charcoal, sepia and sanguine

    Since I was very little, I was interested in the arts as a universal way to communicate. I could not even think with any other form, in terms of studies, while I was growing up. So I consider myself very lucky because I did not have to choose the degree that I had to do. Art chose me.

    Once I got the opportunity to go to the university, I decided to move to Seville because I always wanted to live in a city like this one. Seville is an international city with many possibilities. You can find tradition, but also contemporaneity. It is big, but not huge and is

    Untitled | Inks and pencil

    close enough to my hometown, Ecija, which allows me to visit my family with some frequency.

    At the beginning, I focused on Picasso. I wanted to be like him, a prodigious painter who learned to paint very realistically and ended up deforming reality. I thought this had to be the way to become a great artist, but then everything changed in my mind. I discovered that art does not require a unique approach, but encourages one to be open-minded enough to explore possibilities in connection with interests and expertise.

    Untitled | Acrylic and Oil

    I found out that art is a pathway to generate knowledge. Art can be a means with which human beings can improve their societies in order to make a better world in all senses. Unfortunately, nowadays art seems to be just another element of the capitalist system.

    During my time at the university, I learned a very academic approach to art. So, I can understand why many artists today are not concerned with anything other than form or aesthetic discourse. I must confess now that the university, for me as an artist, was not a bed of roses. My thoughts were flying further than the artistic educational environment encouraged.

    I can make a visual comparison between my first works and my last projects, while in graduate school. For example, the images in this publication show the evolution of my drawings and paintings. The same journey happened with the sequential progression of my sculptures.

    The Girl of El Corte Inglés | Collage and acrylic paint

    I was learning a lot about techniques and making but, in the end, I could not identify myself with any of these works at all. Finally, when I thought that everything was lost, a bright moment came into my life. During my last year (fifth academic year), I moved to Leicester (UK), thanks to an exchange program. I was studying at De Montfort University and then it happened--what I called ‘my artistic awakening’.

    I was inspired by the Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn who said, “I did realize that I have to make the choice to be an artist. I decided to be an artist because only as an artist can I be totally responsible for what I do. The decision to be an artist is the decision for freedom. Freedom is the condition for responsibility. I did realize, to be an artist is not a question about form or a question about content, it is the question about responsibility.” As a way into better understanding the fight for freedom, I decided to make a three-piece installation asking the world for reflections based on the questions: ‘Who are you? What are you doing? What can you do?’
    (See three-piece installation at De Montfort University photos and text at the end of this piece.)

    Saint Roman | Terracotta

    After my undergraduate degree, I completed two masters. One of them was about art education, and the other one was about contemporary art. While in Leicester, I had the opportunity to do research and to write a bit about what I could call a kind of a graduate school thesis. The topic I chose explored the critical issues surrounding questions of death and mortality in the work of contemporary artists Damien Hirst and Kiki Smith. Finally, I ended up doing a PhD in Art and Heritage, where I had the opportunity to express all my thoughts about the current art situation worldwide. My hypothesis posited that a significant increase in the responsibility and commitment of human beings in citizenship and social improvement is possible in a real and effective way through the formulation and dissemination of new artistic paradigms. To do so, artists must be able to apprehend renewed approaches, working in common from our daily environment and digital culture.

    'Mother Earth' | Artificial Marble

    These ideas conduct me today to produce what I call a kind of democratic art. Engaging practices such as interdisciplinarity, cooperative community collaboration and a good use of network, information and communication technologies, I develop socially engaged art projects. Past examples of this work include: Sahara LIbre Flag (Western Sahara/Algeria, 2011) Integração (Rio de Janeiro, 2014) and The Universal Game: One Flag to Connect Us All (Ottawa, 2015). You can learn more about these projects in a 2017 EAS interview.

    During my graduate studies, I got a series of scholarships and grants, artist residencies and research stays in different countries. To get these opportunities, I had to encourage myself to apply for them, otherwise I would not have had the chance to get them. So, somehow, it was my choice to fight for them and it was not something compulsory inside my studies program. Let’s say that most of my colleagues never applied to any of those scholarships or grants. These opportunities were my entrance to the real world. I took notice of what life is.

    'Self-Portrait, Am I alive?' | Metal

    I came to understand that if I wanted to keep growing, I had to develop ideas and artworks on my own. These experiences empowered me, increased my confidence and sense of possibility. Prior to this, I couldn’t even imagine that I would end up making the huge, large-scale art projects that I ended up creating. I think that when you travel, you learn double, become more open-minded and mature faster.

    Emergent Art Space (EAS) was also important to my development as an artist. I began with uploading my portfolio to the online platform. Later I had the opportunity to be one of the selected artists for the EAS international exhibition ‘Crossing Borders’. This was an unforgettable experience because it provided me an opportunity to think beyond my own understanding, engage with other artists across the globe and realize that everything is possible with art. The EAS team is always looking forward to listening to new young artists internationally and to connecting them to others around the world. My advice to artists in the EAS community is to take advantage of this wonderful platform in order to develop and to disseminate your projects and art practice without fear.

     

    Three-Piece Installation at De Montfort University


    'You can’t escape' | Wood, fabric and mannequin

    A suspended coffin with a body (mannequin) engulfed in black fabric tries to answer the first question.

    This piece is accompanied by a performance where the human being wants to go out.
    He is represented like a dead body that leaves the coffin to fight against the conformism of the world,
    but there are too many obstacles. It is impossible to move even when you are alive.
    The aim is for the spectator to identify with the mannequin.
    You have to think about who you are to do something against this, because you can’t escape.
    The general idea of this piece is about death.



    'You can escape' | Wood

    The second piece on the installation is a big labyrinth of panels and pallets of wood that shows
    the viewer a difficult way until reaching an exit.Pass wherever you pass, you can escape because walking and walking you can always find an exit.
    A big box, a room, an independent world, where the interaction of the spectator is most important.
    There is a video-projection inside the labyrinth that shows the making of the artwork.
    Here I want to connect everything, like a bridge between the beginning and the end for the viewer.
    What is the difference between the world inside the installation and the world outside it?
    The darkness, the oppression, is inside, and the decision to continue discovering, or not,
    makes a difficult exit, but an exit exists by pursuit -- so, the idea of life.



    'You can decide' | Wood

    The last question is answered by a piece installed on the roof of the workshop at De Montfort University.I send to everybody the possibility to decide, I transmit a direct message against the passivity of society to the world in general. The words “you can decide” represents the concept of existence. It is true that we are alive, so we can decide to do something or not. I decided to try to be an artist, and I decided to do this. Finally, I wanted to say that all is possible, that you have to ask yourself who you are and what you are doing. Then you have to ask yourself, in the face of life, what you can do, and then, within the limits, do it.


    ABOUT THE ARTIST

    Ramon Blanco-Barrera, a.k.a. ‘233’, earned his PhD from University of Seville, Spain and is on the Fine Arts faculty there. He teaches new media based courses, and his art practice and research explores social and political issues around the world. Ramon sends social and political messages in order to engage people in reflecting on their communities, both local and universal, constantly bringing up human rights concepts and values. He uses the number ‘233’ in reference to the ‘identity game’ of our overpopulated world system. 233’s democratic artworks have been processed and installed or exhibited internationally, including UK, Argentina, Western Sahara, Palestine, Brazil, Canada, USA, Australia and Spain, among others.

     

    Email: rbb@us.es
    Website: www.233art.com
    Social Networks: @233art
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