Sketching a civilisation

Makerere Art Gallery/IHCR | April, 2013

This was the first exhibition in which Canon Griffin and I responded to the historical photographs we were collecting and sharing as HIPUganda. Four posters that could be taken away by visitors accompanied the show. In the space photographs and drawings by Canon Griffin and photographs by me were brought together with images published in the first decade of the 20th century. By presenting them together we wanted to suggest a dialogue between and conversations about them.

Canon added:

“… there is a time when i wanted to be me, myself, an original being, invincible, not walking through systems in a system of systems, then, i used to attach much value to expressing myself, and i did, on paper. This the drawings. Later on i learnt. I got ‘civilised’. The US$ is over two thousand times more valued than the Uganda Shilling, lets then remember the Euro, the Pound, oh! the British Pound pounds the rest huh? I now walk with my passport and local identity card, then when i see the drawings i made, photographs framed by me from this world i live in, i know this being stuck together is caused by wanting. And civil structure helps moderate how i move along with my wants and possibly others’ wants that may be aimed at me or the space i may be in. This whole thing of an individual orienting itself in being is what i see in my drawings and photographs from then.”

And I wrote:

“Images can inform, capture a view on the world, re-invent the world or reflect on it. What an image says depends not only on what it is, but on who is looking at it, what the context of the image is, what value is attached to what is shown and how it is read. Soon after photography’s invention in the 1830s missionaries and colonials used photographs to collect facts about what they encountered in Africa. With these facts they informed their communities back home on what the new territories looked like, what was to be gained, developed and civilized there. The facts in the photographs defined what they thought Uganda was. Lets use images not to define the world, but to relate to it, to sketch it and try to think about what it all means.”