Two girls enter the Makerere Art Gallery in Kampala, Uganda. Judging by their timid behaviour it’s their first time at the gallery, they are not sure how to behave, they are trying to decode this new environment, adjust themselves, synchronize with the unfamiliar context. Then their eyes meet those of an elegant lady and a distinguished gentleman. Spontaneously, one of the girls, feels that some advice is due: “Should I take off my shoes?”, she asks, hopeful for a clue. And without knowing it she gives a name to a new chapter of our AtWork format. The gentleman in the gallery is our advisor Simon Njami and the lady is the curator of the Makerere Art Gallery Katrin Peters- Klaphake, the two being caught in the middle of preparing the next AtWork format in Kampala.
From its beginning AtWork has always grappled with matters of identity and creativity, so the question falls perfectly in line with the format’s philosophy. It recalls the moment of entering sacred and unknown places and invites one to reflect on the symbolism of crossing door sills. Often, this requires questioning what we know about ourselves, our certainties and the way we interact with the world around us. “Should I take off my shoes?” becomes thus the theme and the starting point of the AtWork format adopted by Makerere University’s art school and art gallery. 20 students and recent graduates that are starting their path in the art world will be involved in a 5-day workshop (February 9-13th), during which they will bring their point of view on the question and will spill out their creative expression on the topic on the pages of the Moleskine notebooks.
But the discussion doesn’t stop here. During the first two days of the workshop the participants will be hosted by the Maisha Foundation at Maisha Garden, created by the acclaimed film director Mira Nair. At the end of the second day she will meet the students to hold a debate after a screening of one of her films. A unique and rare opportunity for the students to confront and be inspired by a woman who is an artist, an entrepreneur and above all, a critical thinker.
A simple question that starts a complex debate. A local incident that opens a global conversation. This is exactly how we want AtWork to unfold and take shape, engaging an ever- growing international community of creative minds. So, “Should I take my shoes off?” We will be in Kampala next week to find out. You can choose to join our conversation on-line and give us your point of view. Stay tuned and at work!