Leilah Babirye features in 'Flight: A Collective History'
In 1995, the United Nations organized the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. Among those participating were artists from Uganda, who contributed to important policy discussions, especially those regarding art education for girls. Later that year, the exhibition 'Women Artists on the Move' (1995) opened at the Makerere University Art Gallery in Kampala, a response to the conference that featured work by a collective of women artists.
'Flight: A Collective History' (2018), an exhibition organized by Serubiri Moses, takes this 1995 exhibition as a starting point to reflect on the collective’s formation, activities, and legacy. The exhibition presents four oral history interviews with members of the collective, Sylvia Katende, Rose Kirumira, Lilian Nabulime, and Margaret Nagawa, on their lives, the collective, and the 1995 exhibition.
The show also presents newly-commissioned work by three participating artists. A set of watercolor drawings by Babirye Leilah, who studied with both Nagawa and Nabulime, responds to the collective’s history through a conceptual reading of gender roles. Works by Katende and Nagawa foreground both past and present aspects of African women’s liberation and feminist struggle. Together, these artworks and oral histories bring into focus a largely forgotten history and legacy, within the urgencies and possibilities of African feminism today.