Whabira’s Studio: Forming new vocabularies as a shared language

Dana Whabira is a Zimbabwean artist, architect and cultural facilitator, who lives and works in Harare. An architect by training, she studied art and design at Central Saint Martin’s College in London. 


How can new vocabularies be formed through research and context-driven practice? Can we envision this as a shared language?

The workshop will examine the different ways in which research and locality manifest in artworks. The idea is to highlight issues around the role of context, the reading of site, the meaning of place, and the importance of locality, history and memory. The workshop will problematise the myriad of methodologies and modes of research practices, including the complexities and tensions around working with archives, alternative archives and conceptualisation of what/who constitutes research/knowledge. 

Together with the participants we will explore perspectives of collaborative learning, through engaging with modes of working, sharing, exchange and discursively-produced knowledge. The processes are drawn from both my artistic practice and independent experience running Njelele Art Station in Harare. I would like to be able to offer the participants access to a broader network of artists and skills. As such I would like to draw on a network of artists and propose inviting several to contribute toward the workshop programme. These could be selected for their particular expertise as well as their engagement with research-based practice. The nature of the contribution will be determined as the programme develops, one way would be for artists to join via Skype.1 

Based on an ethos of sharing, participants will be expected to give presentations, where work can be shared and other artists can contribute and advise. Sharing meals, screenings and readings all form part of the discursive platform of research. Ideas and artists will travel to the Uganda National Records Centre and Archives and biennale sites in order to research place as a possible driver of process/production, as well as any other places of interest raised during the workshop. Further knowledge exchange may occur through potential cross-disciplinary discussion between artists from a wide range of fields and disciplines (such as architects, historians, writers, poets, musicians, archive/collection managers and other keepers of knowledge) based in Kampala.