How Deeply Do You Think About Stuff?

An intriguing exhibition opened recently at the Makerere Art Gallery. It features installations of Notebooks – yes, the usual book where you note things. The artworks are a product of an Atwork workshop held from March 9-13 at the same venue. It was centred on critical thinking.

The artists, all of them students had to produce art based on their critical thinking about events or personal experiences in their life.

To guide them through the process, a theme was invoked.

“Should I take off my shoes”, was the theme. It was based on an experience of two young girls who came to the gallery one day and asked the gallery manager if they should take off their shoes first before entering the gallery space.

The interpretation of this single encounter is as diverse as the thought process of each individual participant in the workshop. The use of notebook imbues the type of relationship people have with their thoughts. People write their thoughts down. They want to reflect on them and the outcome often is very interesting in terms of creativity and innovation.

The twenty-two notebook installations in exhibit reflect this element. To the public, they instantly evoke a process of intense creativity and innovation shared by the “artists”. They provoke debate and conversation between the viewer, artwork, and artist as they (installations) assert ideas of the artists on familiar subjects like self-worthiness, confidence, love, ignorance, greed, and even the futility of life. Babirye Leilah’s installation of a burnt notebook titled, I care about you, alludes to the challenges of being a gay in a community that largely discriminates and stereotypes her type. She is not shy about her sexual orientation: “I am gay and there are so many questions: Why proud?”

The artist says that she uses the burning technique to do away with the pain many LGBTI people are having. She goes on to say that the notebook is a platform to share her story so that others like her can find strength and hope.

Immy Mali’s Denounced surrogacy, speaks of the persistence to break out of the confines built by the society, beliefs, and even by self. The installation glued and cut in by razor blades and pins imbues this experience. The technique of using razor sharp blades gaping in the notebook infuses the artwork with drama. The viewer muses at the precision used and yet at the same time is afraid to touch it. This is a metaphor of the excruciating pain and the outburst of the human emotions in situations where one has been under suppression.

Sandra Suubi’s installation of I. LIKE. HER… is created using textile fabric, plastic bottles and glue, while Kazungu Martha’s Exaggerated Memories delve into the subject of women stereotype by society.

Suubi’s poetic work asserts the importance of self-worth for the woman and her sometimes timid nature inspired by a patriarchal dominated society.

Kazungu’s art work is in the media, ink, magazine cut outs and water color. It is an emotional outrage to the hopelessness, despondency and complacency that she faces on a day to day basis because, she says, men say that her buttocks shake like huge potatoes. She condemns any form of male dominance and makes a wish to go to a place where patriarchy is dead.

The Atwork exhibition gets their voice out without fear or favour. The uniqueness of its presentation and the story behind it makes it palpable to everyone each one of us has used at least one medium incorporated by the artists in their work. It can be glue, razor blades, notebooks, and ink.

The location was suitable because it is a centre of knowledge. The students who participated complimented the exhibit because the notion of critical thinking is crucial to their learning and shapes their outlook to life experience.

Like the Atwork project initiator says, “We need people who are not only artists, but thinkers”. The exhibition is showing at the Makerere Art Gallery.

Source : The Independent

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