About

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 involves translating and burning — "slinking"— experimental art 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 artists of the African diaspora: 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 second iteration, supported by Creative Capital, is inspired by Bruce Lee, an internationally beloved figure who transcends space and time. In 2016 onwards, Jahn and Falzone will collaborate with fans (offline and online) around the world to create Bruce-Lee inspired dispatches transmitted to the past, present, and future.

Installed in various public spaces, cultural institutions, and Ugandan video halls, “Bruce Lee Transmission Stations” will connect online (Youtube) and offline Bruce Lee fans to increase who speaks and how we share power.

Events & Exhibitions


Bibanda: Kampala’s Bootleg Cinema


late March - May 1, 2016
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. Items in the exhibition include photographs of colorful bootleg video halls (‘bibanda’), videos that demonstrate the dubbing process, and bootleg DVDs. These works question how the tenets of Uganda’s informal economy upturns Western notions of authorship and control —  in favor of a system predicated on reinvention, adaptation, and appropriation.


Video Slink Uganda at ArtBrussels Art Fair

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

ArtBrussels features artwork bought and sold as high end commodities. Forging an intersection between formal and informal markets, Video Slink Uganda featured experimental films slinked onto bootleg DVDs.


Video Slink Uganda: Bruce Lee Dispatches

Summer 2016 onwards: Brooklyn, New York; Uganda; Flint Michigan, etc.

In the 1970s, Bruce Lee's high-flying kick and two-inch punch introduced a new brand of East Asian virility and athleticism to Americans. For the half-Chinese half-Ecuadorian artist Marisa Morán Jahn, Bruce Lee's films playing on repeat in her childhood home in Dallas, Texas reframed how she saw her father and her own family history.

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 symbol 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.

"Video Slink Uganda: Bruce Lee Dispatches" is an installation for galleries, museums, streets, and Ugandan video halls that remixes Bruce Lee fan videos (offline and online) and sends these vibrant Sino-Afro-Futurist dispatches 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

Reinvention

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 informal market — as opportunities for disruption.

Video Slink Uganda seeks to question 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?

Team

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.

Collaborators

VJ Emmy, VJ Jingo, VJ Junior


In 2012
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
Anjum Asharia, Melanie Butler, Alan Hoffmanis

In 2016
Anjum Asharia, Teva Kohavi, Huicho Mata, Estela Sanchez, Diana Vivar

Funders

apex art Franchise Prize, Creative Capital