Solo Exhibition
22 June 2024–22 June 2025

Leilah Babirye: We Have a History

de Young, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, USA

We Have a History is Leilah Babirye's first solo museum show in the United States. Babirye’s multidisciplinary practice transforms everyday materials into objects that address issues surrounding identity, sexuality and human rights. Composed of debris collected from the streets of New York, Babirye’s sculptures are woven, whittled, welded, burned and burnished. Her choice to use discarded materials in her work is intentional – the pejorative term for a gay person in the Luganda language is ‘abasiyazi’, meaning sugarcane husk. “It’s rubbish,” explains Babirye, “the part of the sugarcane you throw out.” 

Describing her practice, Babirye explains: “Through the act of burning, nailing and assembling, I aim to address the realities of being gay in the context of Uganda and Africa in general. Recently, my working process has been fuelled by a need to find a language to respond to the recent passing of the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda.”

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