Thursday, March 11, 2010

Biting the Bullet.

Today has been filled with emotion over two things, Truth and Love. Bursting out today I have smiled, laughed, cried, been inspired and felt totally expired. And all because of those two elements and the weight that they hold behind them. Truth, the truth about why we do what we do, what do we really strive for with our lives and what drives us? I have been taking pictures for other people for a while now and its fun, I get paid well and I enjoy my job, but wasn’t the whole reason I began my career to be a visual artist? Taking the elements of our social surroundings and pushing these things into the minds of people through art, beautiful photographs depicting a message, a theme, a hope, a source of empowerment.
And so today I went in search of my Truth, my element the place where I really shine, bit the bullet and started my next photography collection.  Assisted by GLORIA WAVAMUNNO with her beautiful dresses and artistic hand I began to photograph the Contemporary Tribe.   A collection based around my Truths, my Poetry and my Love.  Because that was my second emotional battle today, the journey and the true growth of love, how it evolves or goes through its rough patches but eventually how you can begin to believe that it can triumph.
I am not a big believer in the statement that “love can conquer all” but it is growing on me. Especially when you realize that it is impossible for love to exist or grow without the aid of compromise, compassion and understanding. Realizing what is worth fighting for and what simply isn’t. And this might all sound confusing to you but what I am trying to put across is that recently I have been doing what I love to survive, but not completely loving what it was I was doing.  But once you reconnect with the truth of why you are there in the first place, the mind expands and moves to a place where you know what you have to do to love what you do again.  For me it was taking a step back from getting paid and starting my newest collection of Art.
Now I won’t pretend like ideas just come to you, like love itself this concept grew and grew until it was embedded in my mind like I couldn’t shake it off. The idea of The Contemporary Tribe began with a girl, one Miss Gloria Wavamunno who decided that she would one night sport some tribal Zulu face paint.  This combination of dot formations and bare skin moved me like I had never seen her look so sexy.  And I wanted some.  Some of that essence, that confidence, that complete and utter tribal beauty.  So I began to research.  Hoping to look into the past and use it to find strength in my contemporary environments. I believe that: WOMEN NEED TO LOOK TO THE WOMEN BEFORE THEM, FEEL THEIR STRUGGLES AND BURDENS AND USE THAT SENSE OF SURVIVAL TO COMBAT CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS AND MINDSETS.  
Tribe. What is the tribe? Who is the tribe and how can we be a part of one? It is beautiful and liberating to be independent. To want for nothing from others, and to know that we are completely self sufficient.  However, a life without community and support is a lonely one. With no friends around us who are we but lone void vessels coexisting on one planet? And that is why we have tribes?
Traditionally, collective groups who are born and raised in the same community or area who have common threads which run through their lives.  Tribes are formed when people come together and decide to support one another, share beliefs and lifestyle choices. And over time, we have been colonized, modernized and reorganized. We have lost our tribal history in an attempt to liberate ourselves from some of its constraints but also we have lost some of its beauties, cultures and spirituality.
One of the most beautiful cultural elements of traditional tribes is the face paint.  From the Zulu’s to the Red Indians Tribes used face paint outwardly show their communities their, status, achievement, goals and intentions.  The paint connects them spiritually to the earth and their ancestors and draws on Mother Nature’s power to live their lives successfully. 
Thinking about all of this I begin to realize that in a strange way I am part of my own tribe.  And it’s not just within my direct living space, it is worldwide.  We are the tribe of Men and Women, New Bloods, African Bloods. We are ambitious Africans of mixed races and cultures who take pride in our heritage but at the same time strive to move mountains in our lives.  And I feel that we need to look to our ancestors before us…and take on some of their beautiful traditions and use them to empower us in our contemporary lives.  Reconnecting with the spirits of before to find strength, encouragement and beauty.  

This is what my whole project is about. Finding the beauty in our past, these beautiful face paints, combination's of dots which project a mindset, a confidence or a state of openly.  This project is about wearing your ‘African Roots’ openly and proudly. 
Dresses and makeup provided by Gloria Wavamunno

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Date with Mao


My morning starts in a rush, like I’m gasping for air and I can’t seem to find
anything I need. I have a 9o’clock shoot with Norbert Mao the Democratic Party Presidential Candidate for the 2011 elections.  In terms of status he will have been to date my most famous subject.  Today, he wants a simple studio portrait, elegant, sophisticated and smart, something that will not make people think too much but look inviting. Fliers, Posters, that kind of thing.  Artistically I cannot lie; no one is pushing me to the fullest of my potential.  If it were up to me, I would go on the whole Obama tip, the man for the people. Presidential but connectible, touchable, get him in his suit with a massive bowl of Katogo…we can all relate to that right? Either way, this is an influential man in my presence whose millage could take me further in my career, or not, it’s a coin flip but let’s keep positive!   
Five and a half hours later and we are still waiting for Mr. Mao to make an appearance, lights are set, camera is charged and the only thing now is to place someone in front of them.  But every day brings a new lesson, ability, and education.  Today I am learning a certain level of patience and organization.  I have patiently been waiting whilst organizing my entire music collection on my computer and hard drive, we have the alphabetical, the play lists also in alphabetical order and titled in terms of my mood.  It has been a mission of sorts but the wait also allows the mind to begin to wonder whilst in the working frame of mind.  This is different to the creative state of mind.  When you’re in the mood to be ‘Creative’ the mind tells you that anything and everything is possible. Which in reality it is not.  That it why the ‘Work’ state of mind is useful. The mind fills itself with the logistics. The Why’s and How’s which are often forgotten when in the thick of being creative.  I realize that my contemporary tribe project is a workable and feasible one provided I fully explain and detail the theory behind it. But I think that is for my next blog entry as my subject has just arrived.
Five hours late, but he hasn’t stood me up which is a bonus.  In walks a shorter more friendly looking man than I had at first anticipated, equipped with a bright smile and a quick apology we are soon snapping away. And it is easy.  The only problem is that there is a constant smile and plenty of jokes to go around.  I am excited to meet and photograph a very relate able and pleasant character. 
Sitting in the office later there is no hesitation when asked my opinions on his campaign slogans or the design elements of his posters. I feel involved and that I think is the warmest aspect of Mao’s character.  People like him, he is approachable and welcoming.  I think the rally in Masaka will be a fun experience for me. And it will look good as part of my body of work.  I have never been to a political rally in Uganda so this is going to be a first and I hope to capture as much of it as I can on my camera.
I am excited, excited to enter a new place as I have never been to Masaka, excited to discover a whole new side of documentary photography, and excited to be where I am doing what I love.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spoken Truth Birthday

3rd March 2010

Sitting at Java’s once again I have dedicated this blog to the reflection of my birthday.  It comes round once a year and it moves people to the point of a frenzy, you have to have a party to celebrate the day you were born.  I am not one such ndividual, each year I prefer to pick a select group of people to see in my new year, share my expectations and my gratitude to those who have stood next to me year after year unconditionally  forgiving me for my downfalls and congratulating my achievements. However this year I saw my 24th birthday in with a new family, The Spoken Truth Family, and I have never felt so blessed as to have a group of talented young artists that I can truly call Family. 
So it was my Birthday on March 1st.  Or should I rephrase it as my friend did as my ‘REBIRTH’ Day.  Why my Rebirth? Because it is the start of my new year, a year which I hope will be the start of many new opportunities and triumphs.  And the year I want to really push my Photography as Art, Exhibit my new collection of images and push myself as a photographer in East Africa to cross boundaries.  It is very rare to find people in Uganda/East Africa who are willing or want to explore African art in terms of Photography and in terms of the Contemporary not just the Traditional.
I started 24 with Spoken Truth, and event that really does move me.  All my friends and peers turned out to represent themselves through poetry, music, emceeing, and just generally to support.  The microphone was graced with the likes of Maurice Kirya, Angelica and Sister Achola, who all left us feeling inspired.  It’s my birthday and for the first time in a while I am surrounded by real organic talent in Kampala, the kind that moves, inspires and drives new ideas to the front of the mind. And throughout this whole evening all my friends and Fam are getting their face painted with different variations of dots, tribal dots, it was a beautiful element which helped me understand that my ongoing project could be met and understood by more people than I had at first anticipated.   
My evening is wrapped up with an interview by Laurel Jane May, a journalist for Edirisa magazine and radio. It was strange to be asked what inspires me, and hear the words coming out of my mouth, all of them true but not quite how I would have planned my answers…they came more from the gut of what I was feeling right then and there.  So I don’t know when that will be heading out into the world but it is pretty cool for me check them out: Edirisa
This is my Favorite spoken word piece which I recited...and I'll be putting a link up to videos on my facebook page:

I Am
I am mixed race, bi-racial, point five,
Half-cast, half-breed and Colored.
Any way you look at it,
His blood mixed with her blood
Mixed with their blood to make our blood.
And not all that blood runs through
My daughters tiny beautiful veins.

We are the new bloods, African Bloods,
We were colonized and re-organized,
And yet we still walk barefoot
In thick red soil.

I’ve got bi-racial hair,
Mixed race eyes, lips, hips
Thighs you can’t wait to jump into,
But cant admit to?

Well I’m about to switch that shit the fuck up!

You want to categorize us so that we can feel more,
Comfortable with our own kind.
But tell me, where are you going to find a
Part Indian, Part British, Part Ugandan,
Not to mention a hint of You,
To name a few.

Not White enough to be a Sugar Mummy
Not Black enough to be a Wife
Not Asian enough to be acceptable in your circles

But this poem is not a bid for your acceptance,
This poem is not an attempt to rally those ‘like’ me
Under one victimized umbrella of our parents consequences.
This poem is simply a testament of my Truth,
For  those who choose to be in it, for a minute.
My reality, all those tears for all those years
Over my individuality, not yet able to see the beauty
In my uniquity.

But I don’t want your sympathy,
I just want you to put back the pre-conceptions
Your forefathers gave you in your booklet at birth
Because my skin color is not a representation of my
Soul, my Aims, my Goals.

Because all my parents ever did was try something new,
Fall into each other, make Love to each other,
And celebrate the product of their beautiful connection
With the world.
Knowing that one day someone would feel pride
Whilst walking with her spirit.

So whether I’m a Freak, a Geek, a Rebel without a cause
I’m Free
Tell me baby
You want to try being with me? 

Video Links:
I Am
Maurice Kirya