Stimulus package for COVID-19 Photo Zambia Project

FOLLOWING the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the UK’s Angalia Ruskin University (ARU) and the Zambia National Visual Arts Council (VAC) have partnered in a COVID-19 Photo Zambia Project to continue the Zambian Photography Research Network activities.
The project aims to explore self-representation of Zambia during a health crisis and explore where Western photography falls short when it comes to its documentation of the African continent in times of global crisis.
And now, ARU has injected K32,000 in the three-month project to assist the participants with logical support to stay afloat in their online meetings.
The project, which has 10 participants and two local coordinators, meet every Thursday via Zoom, which is also used as a platform for individual and group tutorials by coordinator of the project and ARU photography course leader Kerstin Hacker.
A COVID-19 Photo Zambia exhibition anchored on Instagram with the handle #photocovidzambia virtually takes the viewer through the prevailing situation in private and public spaces against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The images vividly depict masking, greeting with elbows and clear self isolation. The photograph titled Food to Nourish My Soul by Edith Chiliboy is perhaps a perfect image on the portal which illustrates a thoughtful mood of isolation. It shows Edith herself as the subject attentively looking at a wild fruit placed on a stool. The lighting and composition of the image creates a lonely and nostalgic ambiance.
Market, by Ndola-based Danny Chiyesu, depicts two ladies beaming with smiles, of course with masks, going on with fruit vending. The colourful image shows an everyday “normal” life of Zambian city vending. In another photography dubbed Covid Greeting, Danny captures two gentlemen greeting by the touch of their elbows – something that is strongly encouraged by health experts as a means of minimising the spread of the coronavirus.
Ultimately, the exhibition shows resilience and hope and somewhat illustrates the new normal narrative which society is gradually adopting.
Meanwhile, as COVID-19 continues to cripple social and economical activities, the entire art fraternity has been empowered with K30 million by the government. And last week, VAC chairman Chande Kapundu held a meeting in the Lusaka Showgrounds which was attended by a number of artists also beamed live on Facebook. The meeting was primarily held to inform visual artists on how they can access their share of funds from the stimulus package.
Kapundu made it clear that only artists registered as a company or a cooperative and endorsed by the National Arts Council will be eligible and considered to get loans ranging from K10,000 to K1,000,000.
“I’m urging you to come up with bankable art projects for consideration and remember it is strictly art related projects,” he said. “If you want money to venture into fish farming, you should send your application to the Ministry if Fisheries.”
One thing was clear about the hurdles which the artists are already facing before they even access the funds. By nature of their work, artists usually work as individuals and with the current economic situation, their products are not selling as much as they do in a normal economic atmosphere leaving them with a general fear of defaulting on the loans and losing their collateral.
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