Ikoce is a research project investigating the archival capacity of unofficial bodies in preserving intangible cultural heritage and navigating how such ephemeral embodied knowledge can nourish a contemporary artistic practice. The title is borrowed from the cultural practice of Ikoce; which through my research, historically functioned as entertainment, social commentary and cultural emblem for Lango society in Northern Uganda.

 

The relevance of Ikoce’s cultural-social-political legacy to Ugandan history and wider geographies was unpacked in my thesis, Symbolic Resonance —written in an experimental mode of fictional storytelling drawn from anthropological publications, oral poetry and field research among other sources. 
In a speculative mode of address, I looked into Ikoce’s organisation, performance attire and oral poetry; proposing its formation as a transgressive act of resistance against the heavy drafting of Lango men into the King’s African Rifles; to fight for the British Empire during World War II.

The out come of my research has manifested into video work, sculpture, sound and performance. In my video work Ikoce: Volume I, I employ an experimental montage and narration to collapse the boundaries of fact and fiction while attempting to humorously tap into the memory and riddle of Ikoce among residents of a small nondescript town in Northern Uganda.  


My sculptural works (Abjects II & Record) are imbued with symbols and gestures drawn from a dance notation based on the last recorded performances of Ikoce in the 1990s. The dance notation (5 pieces) multi-purposely serves as a record and invitation for performers to collectively conjure, re-invent, inscribe and enjoy the legacy of Ikoce while making relations with various bodies across different geographies and time. .