Ugandan artist Odur Ronald created a large-scale installation exploring issues of violence, power, money, and their impact on human life and value. He describes here the artwork commissioned by the fourth KLA ART, Kampala Contemporary Art Festival, a city-wide festival, which was also recently exhibited at the Afropocene Studio Lab in Kabalagala, Kampala.
'Muwawa' is an installation piece I created to investigate the value of a bullet when placed together with human life. In this artwork, I translate 'muwawa' to mean without care, drawing concern from the shootings in Kampala during the general election campaigns of 2020. Lives lost were attributed to stray bullets and families of the victims were promised money as compensation. I was directly affected as tear gas invaded my sitting room and gun-shot sounds filled the air causing panic and fear as violence gripped my city. From this, I was impelled to question the worth of
life and the value of a bullet.
My way of retaliating was this artwork, which is a recreation of my living space.
I made 1200 aluminum sand cast bullet-like pieces, suspended with thin copper wires mounted on a wire mesh structure in the middle of the ceiling. Bullet shadows projected themselves all over the walls and the objects in the room. In the middle of the room I placed the dining area, normally a space of peace and privacy. I built furniture and objects in aluminum: a table and two chairs, a radio, a television, a Bible, some Uganda currency notes, a passport and a stone.
I explore power-play dynamics with the objects on the table, poking at the recklessness with which the authorities showed disregard for human life and worth, manifest through violence. Borrowing from a statement made by a renown American comedian, Chris Tucker, who aided me in producing this work“, You don’t need no gun control, you know what you need? We need some bullet control. Men, we need to control the bullets, that’s right. I think all bullets should cost five thousand dollars, five thousand dollars per bullet. You know why? Cause if a bullet cost five thousand dollars, there would be no more innocent bystanders."