The Arts Collaboratory Tent was organized during the occasion of the Kampala Contemporary Art 2014 Festival (KLA ART 014) that took place between 4–31 October 2014. The festival was organized by the Arts Collaboratory participating organization 32º East Ugandan Arts Trust, a center based in Kampala focused on creating and exploring contemporary Ugandan art. Throughout the month, the festival showcased contemporary artists from Uganda and neighboring countries under the theme Unmapped exploring questions such as: who are the unheard voices of our cities? How can we represent and celebrate the unseen urban-dweller?
Unfolding over three sites, the festival included an exhibition at Kampala Railway Station featuring artists from Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. Five Ugandan curators, together with South African curator Gabi Ngcobo, worked with the artists to represent the mostly unheard voices of artisan traders in these countries’ major cities.
The second main component the Boda Boda Project displayed artworks by twenty artists who created them on or with a boda boda motorcycle taxi, one of the most iconic elements of daily life in Kampala. The artworks were based on questions about mobility, safety and quality of life in the cities. During this project, the festival collaborated with numerous groups such as an association for disabled people. The boda boda toured through Kampala daily and stopped at key locations to set up a unique temporary exhibition space. In this way, the boda boda became a ‘vehicle’ to showcase the latest works of Uganda’s contemporary artists, map the city, engage directly with the public and highlight new ideas.
The third section of the festival was concerned with the mapping of participating artist studios. Taking the form of a network of open studios running throughout the festival, which allowed for visitors to travel across Kampala on a KLA ART 014 matatu [minibus] to ‘Unmap’ artworks, ideas and creations by Ugandan artists directly from their studio.
Invited by 32º East Ugandan Arts Trust, the Arts Collaboratory participating organizations, Centre d'Art Picha, Nubuke Foundation and Raw Material Company joined for the opening of the festival. The Tent provided an opportunity for Arts Collaboratory partners in the region to link up to the festival; familiarize themselves with the context of the country, exchange knowledge and experiences with the wider community. They met with artists working in Kampala during a visit to various studios and meeting the participants of the Boda Boda Project. A lunch with the Arts Collaboratory participating organizations and members of Kampala-based arts organizations gave an opportunity to share and discuss different methodologies of working across the contexts. After a symposium on the institutional practices of Centre d'Art Picha, Nubuke Foundation and Raw Material Company gave a more detailed look at regional ways of working and the complexities faced in each locality, which opened up a discussion about the diversity of approaches and potential relations in Kampala.
Rocca Gutteride, co-director of 32º East Ugandan Arts Trust, reflected further on the value of the experience:
Collaborating within Arts Collaboratory brings 32° East and the art scene in Kampala into a myriad of critical conversations. Through reaching out to the network we are able to gain advise, support and encouragement on ways to, and not to, organize ourselves in Kampala. Having partners come visit us from across the Global South brings new techniques, methods and ideas into our city. Being able to offer artists return exchanges gives the individual artist and the arts community essential exposure, promotion and publicity.