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KLA ART Labs is divided into three sessions; two 6 week long intensives, plus international residencies. The 6 week long intensives are sessions that focus on the artist process, spotlighting areas of growth. Research and Concept Development was held from the 15th of July to the 22nd of August, and Making Things Public from the 17th of February to the 26th of March, 2020. The programme is structured such that for the first two weeks of each session, participants meet from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm for sessions with invited guests from our networks. In the subsequent weeks, participants meet once a week for peer feedback and collective discussions on their work. Rather than a series of lectures or seminars KLA ART Labs is anchored by co-investigators who provide a window into their practice and process through experience based collaborative learning. For the Research and Concept Development lab session we invited MADEYOULOOK, an artist collective from Johannesburg, South Africa and Lobadys Pérez, a choreographer and dancer from Cartagena, Colombia to join us for the first two weeks. Both of these connections were made through the Arts Collaboratory network. After the first 2 weeks with Lobadys and MADEYOULOOK, participants then began to develop proposals for the kinds of concept and research that they’d like to explore in different contexts through residencies with partners in our networks. We were able to get artists residency opportunities with Art Group 705 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Gudskul in Jakarta, Indonesia, Lugar a Dudas in Cali, Colombia, Casa Tres Patios in Medellin, Colombia, Centre Soleil d’Afrique in Bamako, Mali, Darb1718 in Cairo, Egypt. Over the next 4 weeks of the Research and Concept Development, the participants and team at 32° East met once a week to share and refine their proposals and provide collective feedback. Part of the work also included researching flights and visa procedures. We also developed a blog post on Medium where participants would share their weekly reflections. Another of the elements of art production that has been highlighted as a weakness locally is documentation. When we first conceived of the idea of the Labs we reached out to Arts Collaboratory(AC) to see who might be interested in developing this programme together, with the idea that a session on documentation would take place during the festival in 2020. However, the AC partners who were a part of these conversations felt that having the AC assembly in Uganda would be a great opportunity to begin to introduce discussions and tools of documentation to the labs participants. We therefore had a “pre-lab” on documentation where we had exercises around memory and even had a radio session. For the pre-lab we were joined by Sari Denise from Crater Invertido in Mexico, Syafiatudina from KUNCI in Indonesia, and Dominique Ratton Perez from Teor/etica in Costa Rica. Our 11 KLA ART Labs participants returned to Kampala from their residencies with our Arts Collaboratory network partners. After exploring what it looks like to make art in places as diverse as Indonesia, Colombia and Mali, they then participated in the Making Things Public lab session. Joining this session was Ericka Florez from Cali, Colombia and Sofia Olascoaga from Mexico City, Mexico. They will also investigate how work is affected by context in anticipation of the upcoming KLA ART festival, rescheduled for August 2021 KLA ART Labs was inspired by various programmes such as Raw Academy, GudSkul, Uncommon Pursuits, Asiko, The Winter School, Escuela Incierta, Home Workspace, The Syllabus, Maumaus and Open School East.
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Through funding from the Prince Claus Fund, we had mobility funding which was core to the development of the programme. We sent 10 out of 11 programme participants on residency to partnering organisations, all in the global South. For several participating artists this was their very first international residency. We welcomed 8 arts practitioners to Uganda, also from the global south, providing them with opportunities to better understand our artistic context and These exchanges will hopefully continue when we eventually are able to host our public arts festival, KLA ART.