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Growing Pains

A review: The Thrills and Fears of our new realities Photo Exhibition

The digital era proposes that in order to live a productive life, you ought to cater to your mental, physical and spiritual well-being. What happens when this is not an option for you, your neighbor, and your neighbor’s next door neighbor? The selected images in this exhibition weave a story of change and the (im)possibilities that come as a result in a time when we can only speak of our dreams of productivity.

The reality is that we are all grappling with change at an individual, community and environmental level. There is tension as cities push to modernize at the expense of those on the fringes. Mother nature prioritizes herself at the expense of her master, and, kin turns against kin in what could be the worst genocide of our time.

The photographers, selected from all over the East African region, eloquently share the true narrative of Africa now as we seek to merge ideas of individuality as showcased by the Global North, and those that were the glue for communities that have been the foundations of many countries in the Global South.

In her image, About Introspection XII, Margaret Njeri Ngigi invites us to examine what grounds us amidst this chaos. Her image invites us to journey to familiarity in order to feel grounded. However, how can one identify home when there is an interference?

Amanuel Sileshi in his photo series Searching for Peace Amidst Chaos shares a glimpse of the displacement and disruption brought about as a result of the unrest that has plagued Tigray, Ethiopia since the onset of the COVID19 pandemic in 2020.

While many of us were faced with new realities because of the multiple lockdowns in many countries around the world, Tigrayans’ reality was, and continues to be a double dose of displacement, isolation, and disruption.

Furthermore, Gordwin Odhiambo’s photo story A Changing Community and the Fears Ahead, though situated in Nairobi, highlights the failure of many African governments in shielding citizens against the atrocities of displacement and the consequences thereafter.

So, how do we think about home when those who are supposed to protect us have a part to play in the unearthing of our grounded-ness?

Metche Jaafer’s 40 Nights of Darkness proposes that (be)holding the product of change does not equate to stepping into the boldness of the newness that escorts the product of change. It is that with in the word change is a call to newness.

The more we hide from the tensions that arise within us, the harder it becomes for us to assimilate to our new realities. However, like Robert the ironmonger in Andrew Kartende’s photo series titled NextLife, we ought to take the deadness and create new life, purposefully connecting it to those around us until we form a tapestry we can call home.

This 2022 edition of the Uganda Press Photo Award (UPPA) features artists spanning the greater East African Region with participants from Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan. The selected images are a representation of the transition, not only in the art of photography, but also in our way of being as a region as community takes on a new definition.

Showing at MoTIV, Kampala until 20 November 2022


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