Established in 2015, UNDER GROUND Contemporary Art is a creative initiative of Kei Hashimoto, an artist from Japan and Nantume Violet, a curator from Uganda. The art space was established to provide a platform for critical engagement and interaction between Ugandan and African artists and curators, and as a space for art collaboration for artists around Africa. In collaboration other curators and art producers, the space focuses on supporting experimental and new media art forms into the mainstream art industry in Uganda. UNDER GROUND space provides a platform for free exhibition making for artists and for exchange and skill development for young Ugandan and African visual artists.
The project space is essentially an attempt to respond to several needs within the visual arts sector, including accessibility, professional development of young practitioners, audience development, as well as the challenge of collector-artist relationship. It also aims to provide marketing platforms for independent artists in Eastern Africa and around Africa. Since its inception, UNDER GROUND has successfully hosted 65 artists and 9 curators from several countries including, Uganda, Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Ethiopia South Africa and Japan. In addition a project budget, its exhibitions are free, therefore the Space has attracted a cross-section of audiences that would ordinarily not have easy access to exhibitions. It has also offered educational platforms conceptualized to provide access and creative support to budding artists, and to encourage general growth in field of art appreciation. At UNDER GROUND, we stand for experimentation and we aim to promote artists who work with new media, video and sound, photography, installations and performances. UNDER GROUND is dedicated to facilitating and showcasing contemporary African art practices, encouraging experimental practice and offering a platform for conversations.
UNDER GROUND Contemporary Art is popularly referred to simply in its abbreviated form “UG’. UG is also a colloquial abbreviation for Uganda, so the reference is deliberate, and apt. Reference to UNDER GROUND often immediately evokes connection with Uganda. UNDER GROUND can also mean “clandestine, or hidden from sight”. In our project it refers to that which is outside or beyond the confines of the mainstream. The concept of the Space was motivated by the desire to present a version of art out of the sight of mainstream art industry. The Space is also supposed to be intimate, warm and disarming, an environment in which the young artists can find sufficient courage and confidence to be innovative without the burdens of conventions which are a feature of mainstream art spaces.
UNDER GROUND has successfully established important linkages with both public and private art institutions and independent platforms in Uganda and around the continent. It has collaborated with several artists and art institutions across Uganda and beyond to organize, host and curate experiences UG believes in collaborative art practice as the key to development of art industry.
UNDER GROUND Core team
Board of Directors
Abe Gillian Stacey
Abe is a multimedia artist passionate to develop local agency and philanthropic bases in Uganda. Her goal is to build art funds that eventually facilitate visual artists to financially realize their artistic research, exhibitions, travel and residency programs. She has established Abe Art Fund that will support meaningful and sustainable programing of Uganda’s art scene.
Abe has been awarded with Iwalewa Art Award 2019, the ABSA L’artelier First Merit Award, 2018 and listed by Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 creatives 2018.
John Ddumba Ssentamu
Ddumba Ssentamu is a professor and former Vice Chancellor at Makerere University. As an economics guru serving in different capacities, Ddumba Ssentamu is chairman of the Board of Directors at Centenary Group and formerly chairman of Centenary Bank. He serves on various committees within organizations, spanning around the continent. Ddumba Ssentamu is a passionate educationist and continues to mentor many through writing and his research on economic policies.
Scola Nafuna is an advocate and member of the bar of Uganda, practicing law under her own law firm, Nafuna & Co Advocates in Entebbe, since 2003. Scola is passionate about human rights and social justice, which she supports through art and writing.
Ainomugisha Donald Champion
Donald Champion is a Pan-African entrepreneur with vast experience in business. He is a founder and CEO of African Encounters Company established in 2016. He co-founded Skills for Tomorrow and is a director of the African Secrets – a travel magazine. Donald is passionate about art, tourism and the environment