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Picturing life in rural Uganda- Louise Contino’s Picturing Wanteete

Opening this Wednesday at Brian Morris Gallery (163 Chrystie), is a unique exhibition called Picturing Wanteete. Photographer Louise Rita Contino gave cameras to 17 locals in rural Uganda to snap images of daily life. Images by these new photographers (many of whom hadn’t seen a camera prior to this project) along with portraits by Contino give insight to a life very different than our daily grind here in New York City.

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Picturing Wanteete is a participatory art project designed to promote self-advocacy and community cohesion. In 2014, New York City-based photographer and activist, Louise Rita Contino, relocated to Uganda for four months to create the Wanteete Photo Collective (WPC). Louise distributed 35mm cameras to 17 local community members in a rural village called Wanteete, and engaged the WPC in three months of intensive photographic training. Previously no one in the WPC had ever seen a camera before. However, despite the lack of running water or any temperature control whatsoever, by the project’s conclusion 180 rolls of film were shot and developed in the field. A captivating and deeply personal story emerged about daily life in rural East Africa, as seen through the subjects’ own eyes, via black and white film.

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Picturing Wanteete is in collaboration with two non-profit organizations that are committed to community-led development. The first, Spark MicroGrants, is an international NGO that focuses on providing training and capital support to allow community’s to design and manage their own social impact projects. Wanteete was the first Ugandan community that Spark ever worked five years ago; today Spark has worked in over 100 East African communities. The second organization is BESO Foundation, a grassroots Ugandan community-based organization founded by people from the Wanteete area that focuses on the empowerment of their community through education. BESO provided all of the translation and logistical support to Louise in order to make the WPC a success, and Spark led Louise to Wanteete.

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Both the process and product of this project emphasize the importance of empowerment and collective action in the context of international development. Community members build their own capacity as storytellers and choose how to represent themselves to an international audience. Their images reflect a community that is civically engaged, cohesive, and confident. The project also creates opportunity for the people directly impacted by these development organizations to be intimately included in conversations abroad about their lives, and rightly involves them in fundraising efforts designed to benefit their community and others similar to them.

Picturing Wanteete will be showcased at the Brian Morris Gallery in New York City from April 8th -12th, with an opening reception from 7-10pm on WEDNESDAY APRIL 8. There will be a big party on SATURDAY APRIL 11 from 2pm-10pm with special presentations given by the Executive Director of Spark MicroGrants, Sasha Fisher, and Picturing Wanteete Project Director, Louise Contino, at 6pm. Proceeds from the sale of the photographs go directly to partner organizations, BESO Foundation and Spark MicroGrants.

The Brian Morris Gallery is located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side at 163 Chrystie St, between Delancey and Rivington. Picturing Wanteete will be on view from 12-6pm Wednesday through Sunday, as well as extended evening hours for special events on April 8 and 11. After April 12, selected works will be displayed through May 16 in the Brian Morris Gallery Project Space on the second floor of the gallery. For details, follow us on facebook.com/picturingwanteete.

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One Response to “Picturing life in rural Uganda- Louise Contino’s Picturing Wanteete”
  1. Anna Kućma says:

    Picturing life in rural #Uganda – Louise Contino’s Picturing Wanteete opens tomorrow in NYC- http://t.co/1Ubo1t2S0r via

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