Ebifananyi, Politics of Presentation

Thessaloniki Photo Biennale | September, 2018

An installation part of the Thessaloniki Photobiennale 2018, reflecting on the earlier Ebifananyi exhibitions at the photo museum in Antwerp, Belgium and The Uganda Museum.


Dear visitor,

The presentation you are about to see on this floor is based on a decade of engagements with photographs in Uganda, following visits to a friend from the Netherlands who had made this East African country her home. Probably the most poignant observation made during this time concerns the word used for photographs. In Luganda, the widest spoken minority language in Uganda, photographs are ebifananyi. This word, however, does not refer to writing with light but instead signifies things that look similar to something else.

Ever since I have become aware of this difference, I have tried to grapple with its historical context and present day implications, which led to a series of eight books presenting a collection of photographs encountered in Uganda. Each book launch was accompanied by exhibitions that took place both in Uganda and in Western Europe. In 2017 an overview exhibition was on show in Fomu, the photo museum in Antwerp, Belgium. Last month a presentation in The Uganda Museum followed.

Not only the conceptualisation of photographs in language differs between Uganda and ‘the West’. The conventions around exhibition spaces also vary, as do the expectations of by their audiences. This presentation attempts to make an array of these contexts and responses of these audiences present and to some extent accessible in Thessaloniki. It wants to be a reminder of particular realities that differ from the ones we are familiar with, but nevertheless should be taken into account when we position ourselves in relation to our others.

Andrea Stultiens