Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa

A Broken Record

In 2020, Volt began working with the British artist Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa and invited her to collaborate with us on a publication. The following year, the artist and her brother, writer and photographer Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa, met regularly over the course of a month, with the specific purpose of discussing their work. For the very first time, they shared their thoughts on the significance of contemporary engagement with representations of the past in the arts, compared strategies/creative approaches and reflected on artistic outcomes.

Originally scheduled for release in March 2023, the book – which was to be titled A Broken Record in recognition of the nature of those conversations – ceased production after the tragic death of the artist, at the age of just 46, on 3 January 2023.

A subject of particular interest to Wolukau-Wanambwa was the role played by creative practices in the popular education movements that emerged from the grassroots political struggles of the Global South during the mid-to-late 20th century. For her contribution to the Bergen Assembly in 2019, she drew on the permanent exhibition at the University of Bergen’s Museum of Cultural History, titled Impressions from the Colonies, to explore in detail not only the narratives it told but also those it omitted. As an extension of that project, she brought together a group of young people of colour from Bergen, known collectively as Oi!, to recount their own stories.

Photo: Stuart Williams

Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa

Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa (1976–2023) was a multidisciplinary artist, educator and researcher. After studying literature at Cambridge University and art at London’s Slade School of Fine Art, she was a PhD-candidate at the University of Bergen’s Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design. She was a convener of Another Roadmap School – an international network of scholars and practitioners of art education with an explicitly decolonial agenda – and a co-founder of the Africa Cluster, which comprises working groups in eight cities across the continent: Cairo, Johannesburg, Kampala, Kinshasa, Lagos, Lubumbashi, Maseru and Nyanza. Between 2014 and 2016, she was also director of research at Nagenda International Academy of Art and Design in Namulanda in Uganda.

Wolukau-Wanambwa’s work has been shown internationally at numerous institutions and biennials, including: De Appel, Amsterdam; Bergen Assembly; Berlin Biennale of Contemporary Art; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin; National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare; Kampala Contemporary Art Festival; Serpentine Gallery, London; Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville; and Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart.

Publication Credits:

Design: Alexandra Falagara/BASTION Sweden

Copy-Editing: Rosalind Furness

A Broken Record received funding from City of Bergen and Arts Council Norway

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