Lesbian Bisexual Queer And Refugee Women Use Art To For Advocacy, Mental Health and Socio- Economic Empowerment.

32 East Uganda Arts Trust in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and ArtVism Uganda hosted an art exhibition yesterday on Thursday 30th September 2021 dubbed UNTANGLED ZINES in Kampala. The intimate affair showcased the work of 14 potential LBQ and refugee female creatives who explored the art of zine making in various forms such as poetry, fashion and performance in relevance to the current global COVID19 situation.

According to one of the organizers, Gloria Kiconco, the main outcome of the project was to impart the exhibitors with skills that are in touch with their individual key passions and interests. “The way I see what they (participants) have done, I feel that we have achieved this in a way that it’s more than just the Zines. They do feel recognized, celebrated and have got tools that will work for them in the real world,” Gloria said. “What I hope to see is people understand that no matter whatever situation you have been put in, there is always even the most minimal material with your knowledge that you can use to do something regardless of our continuous involvement. They will find ways to showcase their work in forms that portray their own individual practices while being paid and recognized for it in more formal spaces without being continuously exploited,” she further noted.

In an interview with Kuchu Times Media Group, Robinah Nansubuga, the Curator of Untangled Zines emphasized the urgency to create platforms and safe spaces for marginalized female creatives to encourage dialogues on how to reach their audiences but also ensure their safety from vulnerabilities caused by society. “We are different people with different problems and challenges but with so many great ideas, possibilities and beliefs. With that in mind, let’s create our own intimate alternative spaces that while they exist, so can we,” Robinah said.

One of the event attendees Shawn Mugisha a Ugandan LGBTQ Activist said “Untangled Zines can be another approach to advocacy in how we choose to put our information out the public through many forms of art that one chooses. The inclusion of queer female artists will enable them create for themselves a platform on how they can express and support themselves especially in dire times such as this COVID-19 period.”

Jo, Executive Director at ArtVism and one of the exhibitors at the event, said “This Initiative is important to queer female artists because it can be an outlet through which we can penetrate the mainstream art market. Getting to a level where we are able to showcase the work that we have produced indicates that there is some level that we have reached of acceptance and tapping into mainstream art world. Beyond developing individual skills, we think that the partnerships can go a long way in building capacity for queer female artists regardless of the genres which can and will push our growth in the movement.”

The project began last year in October. Participants were engaged in different workshops that brought them to the center on how to use art together with all other creative forms to foster Advocacy as well as navigate through mental health and socio-economic challenges.