Critics’ Picks

View of Odur Ronald’ s Muwawa, 2021. Photo: Tamie Clicks.

View of Odur Ronald’ s Muwawa, 2021. Photo: Tamie Clicks.


Odur Ronald

Afropocene StudioLab
Tools and Machinery, Gbaga Road
October 21–November 5, 2021

A commission of the fourth KLA ART, a city-wide contemporary art festival produced by 32° East, Odur Ronald’s installation, Muwawa, 2021, compares the purported value of a bullet to that of human life. Installed at the artist’s Afropocene StudioLab in Kabalagala, Muwawa confronts visitors with a living room setup meticulously modeled after objects from Odur’s own home that were crafted out of aluminum printing plates. In a departure from the usual interior decor, however, Odur has added a chandelier of twelve hundred cast-aluminum bullets, suspended from copper wires. The work was informed by a personal experience during the general elections campaigns in 2020, when security forces responded to protestors by firing live artillery at civilians. In the ensuing panic and fear, Odur’s centrally located residence in Nakivubo quickly filled with the fumes from burning tires, tear gas, pepper spray, and stray bullets.

While the chandelier may catch the eye first, Odur invests the remaining objects with their own narratives. The dining table is set with various symbols of indulgence and power: aluminum copies of Ugandan bank notes; a bottle of the moonshine gin, waragi; a passport; and a box of cigarettes. There is also a 1990s-era television set, a bible, and the peasant’s weapon of choice: a stone. These objects are cozily lit and their shadows dance along an adjacent wall, painted an ocean blue.

When used as an adjective, “Muwawa” roughly translates to “without care.” Odur uses it here to underline the irony that the perpetrators of murder are the very people paid by the state to protect its citizens. The artist pokes at the recklessness with which the authorities regard human life, shedding light on the current political environment and the struggle and shortcomings of democracy in Uganda.