The Artists Xchange is a year-long undertaking that brings together artists from Turkana, Karamoja, Kampala and Nairobi to produce abstract of literal work that reflects the issues facing the Ateker region (Turkana & Karamoja). The Xchange is a companion project of the feature documentary Turkana: Races for Resources (www.turkanafilm.com).
The excerpt of the upcoming film details that Turkana: Race for Resources observes the battle for the soul and the future of Kenya’s great northern desert country through the eyes of Mzee Amadole, a resident of Nakukulas Village who worries about losing their traditional way of life, and Ikal Angelei, a young activist who wants a seat at the table for her community so that they can receive a fair share of benefits coming from a big oil find on their land. The film is set for release in 2020.
This is one instance of the varied issues facing the Ateker region. For years Turkana has been left behind in part because it geographically lays in the far reaches of Northern Kenya’s deserts making it an agriculturally poor region in comparison to areas further south. But with recent finds of valuable resources in the region such as oil, Kenya is laying claim on Turkana.
Similarly, across the border from Turkana the Karamoja region in Uganda is also endowed with resources including gold, limestone and marble but has had a similarly fraught relationship with the capital and the agricultural south of the country.
It is therefore a time of great change in the Ateker cluster region and there is an opportunity for artists from the region and beyond to be part of the discussion by bringing art to the forefront of some of the region’s most urgent issues.
The Artists Xchange second instalment produced ‘Floating, Flying’ a project supported by East Africa Arts, new Arts new Audiences (nAnA), a British Council programme that connects artists between Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan and the UK.
In this project artists Margy Modo from Karamoja, Elizabeth Korikel from Turkana and Chebet Mutai from Nairobi collaborated to create inspiring creations set against the stunning landscapes of Eliye, Lake Turkana.
Individually Margy Modo creates modern fashion inspired by her heritage and is a talented beading artist, Elizabeth Korikel works to fuse traditional Turkana and modern bead designs and Chebet Mutai of the popular WaziWazi brand works in leather to create bags and home décor items.
Together they worked to create ‘Floating, Flying’ – a project that fused their sensibilities in décor, beading and leatherwork each showcasing elements from their heritage.
The work will be presented at the Many Studios Gallow Gate program in October 2019.