Artist Projects

Video Slink Uganda: Bruce Lee Dispatches


Marisa Morán Jahn

Commercially pirated Hollywood actions, Nollywood dramas, and Bollywood musicals reach millions of Ugandans every month. VJs (or “video jockeys”—think interpreters + carney barkers + stand-up comedians) play a unique linchpin in this media ecology: they liberally translate these films into the local language. In 2012, Jahn collaborated with Paul Falzone, a tactical media organizer in East Africa, and three VJs to insert artwork onto commercially pirated DVDs and into bibanda (public video halls where bootlegs are shown).

In 2016, Jahn — who was weaned on martial art films — will collaborate with Bruce Lee fans in Uganda and elsewhere to create Sino-Afro-futurist dispatches sent to the past, present, and future. The resulting videos will be sent to outerspace and slinked onto bootlegs.

Project Updates

  • ‘Bibanda: Kampala’s Bootleg Cinema’ investigates the architecture of Uganda’s informal economy in which commercially-pirated films reach millions of Ugandans every month and hundreds of thousands each day—more than television and newspapers combined. Examples of objects included in the exhibition include photographs of colorful bootleg video halls (‘bibanda’); videos that demonstrate the dubbing process; and bootleg DVDs. These works ultimately question how the tenets of Uganda’s informal economy upturn Western notions of authorship and control — in favor of a system predicated on reinvention, adaptation, and appropriation.

  • The Brussels Art Fair features artwork bought and sold as high end commodities. This year, Aleppo, a discursive Brussels-based non-profit organization, curates a section devoted to the blackmarket. As one of the exhibition’s featured projects, Video Slink Uganda forges an intersection between the commodity logic between the art market and informal economy.