Life becomes good when you find love. Rethinking of what is rights makes you activist. The world is full of diversity that we opt to embrace. I’m gay and there are so many questions: Why proud? Why is there so much torture, bullying in schools? I use burning to do away with the pain that many LGBTI people are having. I’m dedicating this book of love to this community. Sharing my story as a diary for others to gain hope and strength. To make them see how they can get over things, be who they are, by talking of stories that will help them.
Babirye Leilah is a contemporary visual artist who specializes in abstract sculpture. She graduated from Makerere University in 2010, having majored in sculpture, and works with wood, scrap metal and found objects. Babirye Leilah deals with subjects including human rights basically gay issues in Uganda, exploring political, social and economic issues. She has completed residences at the Kuona Trust in Kenya, Nafasi Art Space in Tanzania, Hospital Field in Scotland and 32ø East | Ugandan Arts Trust, and received an award from the Royal Overseas League in the UK in 2013 and Fire Island Art Residency at Cherry Groove in New York. Workshops attended: AtWork Kampala 9th-13th Feb 2015. Global critic clinic art workshop 14th-22rd July 2014, Kampala Art Biennale, August 2014, Peace and conflicting art workshop Mali 2013, Kla Art 2014, Kampala contemporary art festival 2014, Coaching for ministries art and leadership conference, trainees of trainees 2013, Raku firing techniques workshop 2008. Publications MUFF magazine 2013 London, New vision 2015/Jan STARS TO WATCHT, CCTV Broad cast television 2013.
My work can be described as `abstract sculpture.’ I use found objects such as metal, plastic, rubber and wood. 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 fueled by a need to find a language to respond recent passing of the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda. The search for the right words or grammar and the search for a critical way of asking questions are similar to the way I carefully select my materials. The burning of some of the materials, especially objects made out of plastic, is performed in public places. The act is subtle in that the burning object is buried underground and still generates smoke that can only be noticed when one looks closely or is overcome by the smell.
This subtle strategy reflects on the pain experienced by the gay community, a pain that remains unseen although felt by many. My sculptural work is created using rough materials with which I create forms and volumes with a quite strength representative of the queer community in Uganda and other parts Africa.