Ebifananyi – Mutualities

Royal Academy of Art, The Hague | December, 2018

The fourth overview exhibition in the Ebifananyi project was also the show that accompanied my PhD defence on the 20th of November 2018. The emphasis of the exhibition was on the shared presentations bridging some of the differences between photographs in Uganda and photographs in Western Europe, as discussed in my dissertation ‘Ebifananyi, a study of photographs in Uganda in and through an artistic practice’ (that will be made available through the repository of Leiden University and then linked here soon).

Visitors to the show were, as was the case with earlier displays in Antwerp, Kampala and Thessaloniki, welcomed with a letter addressing them:

 

Dear Visitor,

The likenesses in this room are presented to you in relation to the defence of my doctoral thesis ‘Ebifananyi, a study of photographs in Uganda in and through an artistic practice’. The Luganda word ebifananyi and the English word photographs may refer to the same pictures but conceptualise them differently. Ebifananyi are things that look like something else rather than pictures made with a camera.

Over the past five years I explored the historical context of Ebifananyi and its consequences for present day visual culture in Uganda within the framework of PhDArts. As part of this exploration I produced a series of books with both Ugandan and European audiences in mind. The book launches were accompanied by exhibitions that took place in Uganda and Western Europe. FoMu, the museum of photography in Antwerp, and The Uganda Museum in Kampala both presented overview exhibitions of the project to their audiences.

The exhibitions in Uganda and Western Europe presented photographs that were produced, used and given meaning within particular contexts. The origins of these photographs vary from the personal collections of photographers to the legacy of a prominent chief and to institutional archives. One of the first photographs made in present day Uganda holds an important place in my research and in this exhibition. It is a photograph of Kabaka Muteesa I, made in 1875 by British/American explorer Henry Morton Stanley. Three prints of this picture are now part of a collection in Belgium that exists because of the country’s colonial heritage.

Particular histories and cultural differences were explored with the intention to contribute to a better mutual understanding of various realities and ways in which we see them, mediated by encounters with Ebifananyi / Photographs.

Andrea Stultiens