10 February 2018

East Africa Arts Biennale Goes Regional

The arts world is doing its part to integrate the region through the East Africa Arts Biennale (EASTAFAB).

Now in its 8th edition, the event is taking place for the first time in each of the five East African countries under the title "Moving Arts Across East African Borders".

The 2017-2018 exhibition opened Dar es Salaam last November for three weeks, before moving to Arusha and then to Nairobi in January.

It takes place every two years in Dar es Salaam, with participation by visual and performing artists from across East Africa. Visual artists have an opportunity to sell their works.

Artists register to participate, and having their works displayed is subject to approval.

Beyond paintings on canvas other artistic styles accepted include digital prints, films, sculptures and ceramics. Organisers look for creativity and originality.

Fatema Qureish is a paper-quilling artist based in Nairobi. At the Kenyan part of the event held at the French Cultural Centre last month she submitted a pair of three-dimensional wildlife images made with rolled-up strips of paper.

She says the uniqueness of the event is "in its equal promotion of diverse mediums that artists adopt in expressing their thoughts and communicate with the world."

Joy Maringa, a Kenyan makeup artist, exhibited her works on abstract lip art, incorporating local ingredients such as rice grains, millet seeds and maize meal.

All together 62 local and international artists are taking part. German artist Klaus Hartmann exhibited a series of drawings in Tanzania titled Along the New Road, based on his travels to Makonde in south-east Tanzania.

EASTAFAB was established in 2003 in Tanzania by Professor Elias Jengo of the University of Dar es Salaam and Belgian artist Yves Goscinny, then residing in Tanzania.

EASTAFAB is credited with spurring other cross-border art shows such as the Tinga Tinga exhibition of Tanzanian artists that was held in Kampala last year.

The exhibition is currently taking place at Kampala's Aka Gallery. The show will then move to Kigali from February 12 to 18, and to Bujumbura from February 22 to 28.

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