The exhibition Simuda Nyuma – Forward Ever Backward Never (2015) curated by Robinah Nansubuga (UG) and Andrea Stultiens (NL) offers work by nine Ugandan artists and two groups of students, one from Uganda Christian University in Mukono and one from Akademie Minerva in Groningen.
The title Simuda Nyuma revers to a trilogy written in the 1930s by Ham Mukasa, a chief from Buganda, the Kingdom in south Uganda. He was an early literate, an early Christian convert, and known among his people as ‘the scholar who never went to school’. Mukasa (ca. 1870 – 1956) wrote about the lives and times of three Bugandan kings, reigning from the mid 19th century to the 1930s. Mukasa wrote in Luganda, which is still the main language spoken in south central Uganda. Mukasa’s writing and the documents he collected create the opportunity to engage with a specific history that had previously been written and visualised largely by outsiders.
In Mukasa’s family collection, consisting of photographs, books, manuscripts and documents, curator Andrea Stultiens found a list describing images that were intended to, but never did, illustrate the books. The list was used as a starting-point for both Ugandan and Dutch artists to engage with a specific history and to create some of the images on Mukasa’s list. The result can now be seen in this exhibition at Framer Framed. Please find below a link to the hand-out with additional information on the individual works on show.
For Stultiens, the project is part of her larger exploration of the way in which photo collections in Uganda can be used to develop narratives that broaden possible interpretations of its national history. Ebifananyi is the Luganda word for photographs, paintings and any other kind of two-dimensional likeness, as well as the title of this research conducted by Stultiens as part of the PhDArts program of Leiden University. Ugandan curator Robinah Nansubuga became involved with the project through personal interest in cultural histories in general, and of East-Africa in particular.
The exhibition includes the works of artists Emmanuel Lwanga, Sanaa Gateja, Fred Mutebi, Ian Mwesiga, Robinah Nansubuga, Violet Nantume, Nathan Omiel, Achola Rosario, Sane (Eria Nsubuga), Papa Shabani, Xenson Znja. It also includes work by students of Uganda Christian University in Mukono and Academie Minerva in Groningen.