Video Halls (or "bibanda") are often no more than small huts where viewers pay a few cents to watch pirated DVDs on diesel-powered television screens. In the majority of villages and towns, they are the only form of popular visual entertainment, reaching millions of Ugandans every month and hundreds of thousands each day—more than television and newspapers put together. "VJs” (or "video jockeys") translate Hollywood actions, Nollywood dramas, Bollywood musicals, cartoons, and porn into the primary local language of Luganda. Acting as translators, stand-up comedians, and carney barkers, VJs thus operate as nodes of distribution to the bibanda.

Initiated by media ethnographer Paul Falzone and artist Marisa Morán Jahn, Video Slink Uganda began with translating and burning — "slinking"— experimental art by contemporary African diasporan artists onto bootleg DVDs, seen by millions of viewers as previews to the main film, and circulated throughout Uganda's bootleg cinemas.

The pilot project, funded by apex art Franchise Exhibitions in 2013, involves VJ Junior, VJ Emmie, and VJ Jingo adapting/translating/re-interpreting the works of Paul D. Miller a.k.a. Dj Spooky, Rashaad Newsome, Akosua Adoma Owusu, Kamau Patton, Zina Saro-Wiwa, Hank Willis Thomas/Terence Nance, and Saya Woolfalk.

The project, supported by Creative Capital, continues in 2016 onwards as ongoing cultural exchanges, exhibitions, presentations, and slinks that further reflect upon the architecture, memes, and semiotic economies of formal and informal markets.

Events & Exhibitions

Bibanda: Kampala’s Bootleg Cinema

late March - early May, 2016 (TBD)
Exhibition at Columbia University, Avery Hall, 4th Floor (Architecture)
Curated by Mark Wasiuta and Adam Bandler

‘Bibanda: Kampala’s Bootleg Cinema’ investigates the architecture of Uganda’s blackmarket in which commercially-pirated films reach millions of Ugandans every month and hundreds of thousands each day—more than television and newspapers combined. Examples of objects included in the exhibition include photographs of colorful bootleg video halls (‘bibanda’) alongside a map that typologizes a cinematic viewership unique to Uganda; videos that demonstrate the dubbing process; and bootleg DVDs. These works ultimately question how the tenets of Uganda’s blackmarket upturn Western notions of authorship and control —  in favor of a system predicated on reinvention, adaptation, and appropriation.

Video Slink Uganda at Brussels Art Fair

April 21-24, 2016
Curated by Daniel Blanga-Gubbay (Aleppo)

The Brussels Art Fair features artwork bought and sold as high end commodities. This year, Aleppo, a discursive Brussels-based non-profit organization, curates a section devoted to the blackmarket. As one of the exhibition's featured projects, Video Slink Uganda forges an intersection between the commodity logic of both the art market and black market.

Items on view include videos demonstrating the dubbing process, bootleg DVDs available for sale, and a limited edition text piece that doubles as a contract signed by Marisa Morán Jahn + Paul Falzone and participating artists. To further provoke an overlap between art fair and black market, at the Brussels Art Fair, this contract will be sold at commercial gallery prices.

Inverting the traditional guarantees of Western art contracts, the contract for Video Slink Uganda invites participating artists to subject their work to a process of "regeneration." For example, one clause asks artists to acknowledge the following, "It is possible and even likely that my work will be mis/translated, misquoted, misunderstood, mistreated, mocked, pirated, duplicated, derided, sold on dusty streets and crowded markets of any kind."

Another section inverts the contractual agreement usually made between Western museums and galleries to “return the artwork undamaged.” However, Jahn and Falzone promised to return only the damage—those “artifacts of mistranslations, the bits that are dubbed, doubled, and born anew.”

Thus, Video Slink Uganda adopts the language and logic of both blackmarket and artworld to —  like an MRI — expose their innerworkings.

Slinking Bruce Lee: Uganda, U.S., Beyond

Summer 2016 onwards, Locations TBD

In the 1970s, Bruce Lee, the Chinese martial artist, director, and producer whose high-flying kick and two-inch punch introduced a new brand of East Asian virility and athleticism to Americans. Today, Lee remains one of the chief film icons that continues to capture Ugandan imaginations. Walking through Uganda today, a simple poster of Bruce Lee hung in a doorway suffices to designate that venue as a video hall. Recently, a homegrown community of Bruce Lee fans in Uganda began producing their own micro-budget action films. A synecdoche for subaltern power, Bruce Lee has additionally inspired many around the world with his message of counter-resistance and command of how the Other is seen and heard.

"Slinking Bruce Lee: Uganda, U.S., Beyond" is an installation and performance in which a Sino-Afro-Futurist transmission station dispatches Bruce Lee-inspired experimental films to fans, past, present, and future.

"A parasite, physical, acoustic, informational, belonging to order and disorder, a new voice, an important one, in the contrapuntal matrix."

Michel Serres

The Parasite


Artwork produced within a Western paradigm of commodity production typically controls the distribution, reproduction, and profits of the work. In doing so, a certain stability is ensured; this system of exclusion in fact produces what Jacques Derrida refers to as the ‘bastard’: “Bastards appear and (disappear) to enact impropriety. Accordingly, the bastard might be named 'impropriety itself' [...] Bastards, however, cannot be named properly and the one thing impropriety cannot be is one thing.”

By comparison, cultures built upon a largely informal or blackmarket economy thrive on piracy and derivation as an inevitable force with its own set of tacit rules. Here, the illegitimate (the bastard) is not disavowed. Instead, the copy, bootleg, or knockoff becomes the currency itself, and increasing degrees of degradation, remove, or infidelity in fact heighten the work’s authenticity. Privileged here are translation and adaptation — skills honed in the Ugandan blackmarket — as opportunities for disruption.

Video Slink Uganda uses artwork to forge a dialogue among diasporan cultural producers. In so doing, the project questions specific ways and moments in which narratives (and therefore power) are transmitted, translated, regenerated, and forged anew. How can we share power and expand who gets to create meaning?


Lead Artists

Of Chinese and Ecuadorian descent, Marisa Morán Jahn is an artist and the founder of Studio REV-, an art + media + social justice non-profit organization. Her work has been presented at The White House, Walker Art Center, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and more. A graduate of MIT, Jahn has edited three books about culture and politics, was an artist in residence at MIT's Media Lab; and was a CEC Artslink Fellow to Tajikistan, Estonia, Kaliningrad, Armenia. She has received awards from Rockefeller Foundation, Creative Capital, Tribeca Film Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts, and CNN named her Domestic Worker App one of "5 apps that could change the world." Her work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times, BBC, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The Nation, Art in America, Hyperallergic, and more.

Paul Falzone is a scholar, artist and award-winning media producer whose short and feature length documentaries, television programming, viral video, public service announcements and experimental films have been featured in festivals, galleries and other venues including the Institute for Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. He has taught at the undergraduate and graduate level and his writing has appeared in many peer-reviewed journals and academic books. He is currently the founder and director of Peripheral Vision International, a nonprofit organization that produces and distributes human rights and advocacy media in East Africa. Paul holds an MA and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.


VJ Emmy, VJ Jingo, VJ Junior
Anjum Asharia

Paul D. Miller a.k.a. Dj Spooky
Rashaad Newsome
Akosua Adoma Owusu
Kamau Patton
Zina Saro-Wiwa
Hank Willis Thomas and Terence Nance
Saya Woolfalk


apex art Franchise Prize, Creative Capital

Special Thanks

Melanie Butler, Alan Hoffmanis