RoboCop in Uganda
Politicals posters as resistance

April 20, 2024 – Sept. 1, 2024
Nasser Road is the beating heart of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Here you can (illegally) order and purchase just about anything, from travel documents, job references, and banknotes to one of the most eye-catching products gracing the city’s streets: political posters. These posters are more than just commercial products and simultaneously serve as acts of resistance. Executed in a characteristic, Hollywood-like visual language, on these colourful images printed on cardboard controversial political leaders are portrayed as heroes of the resistance, thus challenging the Western global powers. Using typical low-budget aesthetics reminiscent of the early days of the internet, Donald Trump, Sadam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden are frequently presented as Hollywood action heroes like RoboCop, Rambo, or Darth Vader. The exhibition RoboCop in Uganda offers an insight into the origins of these posters and the role they play in the country’s political culture.

The selection of posters featured in the exhibition is based on Professor Kristof Titeca’s photobook Nasser Road, which was nominated for the 2023 Paris Photo Aperture First Photobook Award. Titeca has been collecting these political posters for twenty years now, sourcing them from a small group of Nasser Road designers. They are an essential component of the Ugandan printing industry, finding their way to barber shops, cafés, and homes via street vendors. 

Role reversals

By presenting political figures who are controversial in the West — like Gaddafi, Putin, and Kim Jong Un — as ‘super heroes’, the posters question existing power structures and criticise the powers of the Western world. Through these either tragic or humorous role reversals, the posters reject existing hegemonic relationships while proposing alternative histories and futures. The actress Winona Ryder is, for instance, depicted as Osama Bin Laden’s daughter, while various other posters show an imaginary battleground for a so-called World War III. Ugandan politicians like President Museveni or opposition leaders Kizza Besigye and Bobi Wine, also appear on the posters as superheroes with supernatural powers. These images not only highlight the influence of Hollywood, but also provide an insight into the political culture and history of Uganda. As there has not been a peaceful transfer of power since the colonial era, the military still play a significant role in the country’s politics. Besides political posters, the exhibition presents photographs by Kristof Titeca, Ugandan photographers Badru Katumba and Zahara Abdul and a video interview with Ugandan scholar Yusuf Serunkuma.

Kristof Titeca

Kristof Titeca studied at the LUCA School of Arts in Ghent and is currently professor of International Development at the University of Antwerp’s Institute of Development Policy (IOB). Titeca’s work focuses on conflict and governance in Central and Eastern Africa, publishing widely on these subjects both in the academic world and the media. The photographs featured in his publication Rebel Lives: Photographs From Inside Lord’s Resistance Army have been exhibited in Antwerp, New York, Geneva, and Kinshasa. His book Nasser Road. Political Posters in Uganda was nominated for the 2023 Paris Photo Aperture First Photobook Award.

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1. World War III Rusia vs the world - Nasser Road Designer.jpg
World War III Russia vs the World - Nasser Road Designer
4. Gen KY Museveni - Nasser Road Designer.jpg
Gen KY Museveni - Nasser Road designer
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