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Supporting Young African Artists in Kampala

Initiated in 2014, the Kampala Art Biennale is a key event in the contemporary African art scene in Uganda.
Directed by Simon Njami, an influential curator and art critic of Cameroonian origins, the 2018 Biennale included the exhibition of works by artists from across the continent. Conferences and other events were also organized to help consolidate the position of African artists on the international stage. To this end, a mentoring program was also set up, whereby seven internationally renowned African artists hosted 35 young artists in residence for ten days. The goal was to produce one or more collective or individual works, some of which would be exhibited during the Biennale. Underpinned by a spirit of sharing, cross-cultural dialogue and the nurturing of young talent, this is exactly the type of project that the TotalEnergies Foundation has chosen to support.

Rafiy Okefohalan, Artist in Residence, Shares His Story - Kampala Art Biennale 2018

My name is Rafiy Okefohalan.
I was born in Porto Novo in Benin.
I am a painter and sculptor, and I have honed my craft in Togo, Nigeria, Senegal and Paris.

In coming to Kampala, my goal was to learn more conceptual work, to develop the intellectual thought processes that stem from an initial idea and, in doing so, develop a more mature and profound artistic approach to my work.

Simon Njami was an excellent team leader.
I was able to observe how he tackles and develops his ideas and, I think, learn concrete ways in which to approach and conceptualize ideas to give them physical form.

I remember that feeling of satisfaction when the project began to take shape and when the team led by Simon Njami was able to map out the final installation.

There is a lot of individual work carried out but also group discussions.
We met every morning in the common work space.
The challenge is to bring together everyone’s ideas.

I learn how to draw ideas from various documents: it is important to take inspiration from all sorts of references to enrich a cultural project.
Creating the “Kampala library” was a great experience.