24 February, 2011

Artists' Profile - Guidelines

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Doc initiated : 24 Feb 2011
Last updated: 18 Mar 2011

PURPOSE OF THIS POST is to assist artists wanting to have a page / post on this site to design and format such an entry. 

YOU are at liberty to lay out the form/page as you please, but bear in mind the text that follows.
The draft submission, if necessary, shall be edited. An edited draft shall be re-sent to you for final adjustments and approval by you. When ready the form is published as a post on the ZamArt Blog. Visitors can access the post via the sidebar on the monitor screen by clicking on the page Art Players and from there on to your name, or by clicking Artists’ Profiles under Labels in the sidebar and from there move to your entry.
HOW to proceed?
1.   The easiest way is to create a text on the computer. MS Word gives you the option, when starting a new document, to open it in blog format – that is what I am doing here. It is convenient but not necessary. When done, mail the document to zamfactor@gmail.comAsk a friend to help you if you are computer illiterate
2.   Bear in mind that it takes time to download your post. The heavier your post the longer it takes to download. Photographs are the main problem. For Internet publication you need a relatively low resolution (usually in jpeg format) and you also want a good quality picture. Start out with a good picture, either scanned or by digital camera. Standard web resolution is 72 pixels/inch. If you scan: scan photo/picture at this resolution. Save scan as a file. Check if it came out all right. Adjust/correct if necessary and if you can. Size on screen of your scanned picture depends on your screen resolution. For digital photo’s: select (if possible) a relatively small size (e.g., 640 x 480), load into your computer, adjust if necessary and send as e-mail. Send your pictures as mail attachments. As a general guideline keep your entry under 200 KB. That number is enough for 1 page of text having about 4 good quality pictures (in jpeg). And less is better, until the days when we shall have genuine broadband, affordable and for all. Picture size on Internet publication are easily adjusted and hence their "weight" as expressed in Kb's. Just make sure not to send excessively heavy mails by attaching pictures having a high resolution as required for printing. Internet is happy with the 72 dpi standard.
3.   Read these guidelines and notes carefully before you start.
4.  Need assistance? Mail to: zamfactor@gmail.com

GENERAL layout – but do go about it as you wish
Below are itemized elements that can go into the design of your profile. Items 1, 2 and 8 must be done. The others are optional, and you can add topics of your own. You may also add-on and modify later, following initial submission.
You can follow the numbered list below, or write your thing as a story (like: I am Samsom Phiri, I was born in Katete in 1958. I am a painter. I got into painting because at secondary school I did better in art &c.).
1.   Your name is the title of your post (placed where in this post you read Artists’ Profile Format). Start with your surname, for example: PHIRI, Samson
2.   Date the document and in the next line under write: last update:           . This helps visitors to your post to assess information provided.
3.   Contact me. Provide if you want, phone numbers (in international format, 00260-(0)xxx xxx xxx, and if you have and want, e-mail address(es). If you already are on the Internet somewhere, provide the link. Same for membership of social electronic networks as facebook or twitter. Update when necessary. Note that provision of internet addresses is not without risk and open to abuse.
4.   Art Education. You may want to state formal art related education you have enjoyed (or been a victim of), major workshops you participated in, and perhaps apprenticeships or informal working with senior artists from whom you learned a lot.
5.   Prizes and awards. You can mention these if you have been the lucky recipient, stating date, place, name of the award and award issuing organisation.
6.   Membership of art organisations & social activities. You may want to mention art organisations you are a member of, especially if you have done some real work in there; and other social activity you are or were engaged in.
7.   Publications. You may, if applicable, want to list publication of texts by your hand, or publications in which you feature. Note that there is an option of publishing on this site.
8.   Main techniques practiced. Itemize techniques (“lines of production”) in which you do make art work. It would be nice to have photographic examples of each technique by your hand. Provide details of these works: title, year of production, technique, size. If you want also say where it is (in the collection of so and so, whatever the case may be) and add other information as you like. It would make sense to illustrate your technical competencies by what you consider to be your major works of art.
9.   Main exhibitions. Itemize exhibitions where your work has been on display. Detail year and location, add what you want to add.
10.                Art and me. You may want to write a brief story about your life as an artist and, by your choice, go into topics like: what got you into art; your best works; fellow artists that have influenced you; institutions or organisations that have supported you; what you think / feel you want to do as an artist; things that frustrate you and things that elevate you; what we can do to make art work better (in Zambia); or whatever it is you would like to say.
11.                State Comment settings: allowed or not allowed. A comment is a reaction of a viewer to your post meant for publication, annexed to your post. See next section. The default is: do not allow comments.
Look at your page from the viewpoint of a visitor: try to get this person, unknown to you and to whom you almost mysteriously are electronically connected, interested in your art work. Do not be shy of a bit of self-promotion. Use this instrument to boost your reputation, sales, and electronic social network.

PUBLICATION, e-mail and Comments
Blogs are (mini)websites that have the option of response by a visitor. A comment is one such response, an e-mail another. Visitors can directly e-mail to you, the artist, in case you have provided the mail to: link in your post. They can make a comment (meant for Internet publication) if the comment option is turned on in the settings of your page / post. A submitted comment, if the comment option is allowed, is screened by the blog administrator, to avoid publication of malicious & other undesirable material. The comment, if passed, is published and can be accessed via the comment button at the bottom of your page screen.

ART selling artist
Artists offering their art for sale using the Art for Sale facility of this site should have their profile posted to allow interested parties to get to know the artist by a few clicks.

23 February, 2011

10 Days after Launch

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Doc initiated       : 23 Feb 2011
Doc last updated:

What is the score? 10 days after broadcasting the VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF ZAMBIAN ART project & the launching of this blog to promote the virtual museum idea, facilitate public discussion and to demonstrate some of the features a fully fledged zamart website might have.
The good news is that there has been ZamArt-Blog development by adding pages and posts. There also has been public interest with about 10 page views daily since the blog became accessible.
The not-so-good news is that the number of received IT responses (by comment or e-mail) is low. There may also be not-received responses as I know of at least 1 comment that went astray. In any case, we have some work to do to justify the notion that this blog and its projected website successor are becoming an IT platform for matters concerning Zambian art.

What Next? We need a bit of an awareness campaign resulting in some sort of artists' awakening.
How? Well, frankly, the Virtual Museum plan has been sent to only a few of the many (potentially) interested parties. That was because of difficulty in getting e-mail addresses, I mean, operating addresses. It also might be that getting into the blog from a link in the mail does not work in some cases, you click (or press control + click-on-link), but no go. (In such event: copy link and post in web browser address window, check that you got the URL right: http://zamart.blogspot.com/ ). It was, by the way, frightening to see how many e-mail addresses were not working, meaning owners had not informed their contacts of change of address.
Looking at the low response level to date, I am reminded of something William Bwalya Miko (artist and director of Zambia’s most prestigious art gallery) wrote: "....during the last four decades very few steps have been taken by artists and the powers that be in the area of visual arts development in Zambia, particularly in terms of international exposure.” (In a photocopied / computer printout paper, titled “KUNDWE” OUT HERE!, distributed in 2005). It is perhaps not all that clear to what extent this statement reflects William’s mood at the time and “objective reality.” William in the same paper acknowledges good progress in a number of areas but his statement that ...."more effort is needed.” is surely true, independent of anybody’s mood of the day.

What else?
·         A stand-alone page has been added labelled Publications. This page is to (a) have a bibliography of books and articles pertinent to Zambian art and document other forms of relevant information (including publications on Internet) and (b) facilitate publishing of and access to papers (as a post on this blog).
·         Two stand-alone pages are presently in the making:
1: Players is to list parties (artists, organisations, writers & others) acting in past and present on the Zambian art scene. Each of the entities shall/may have its own post, which can be accessed from the Players page tab and by other routes located at the sidebar.
2: Art for Sale is a stand-alone page linking to individual posts in which art work can be offered for sale (by artists, art dealers or owners wanting to sell, and where sales promotion can be placed (by artists, art dealers or galleries)). This page shall have elements of online shopping in it, and shall enable interested parties to contact artists, art owners and galleries to acquire information and purchase directly from them.
·         The Art for Sale page eventually is to be complemented by the Art Wanted page in which buyers looking for specific art can place their call.
And, most importantly: SHARE YOUR IDEAS BY POSTING A COMMENT OR SENDING AN E-MAIL! (and do save a copy for yourself in case of delivery failure).

17 February, 2011

Responses by E-mail & SMS

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page initiated      : 17 February 2011
page last updated: 26 February 2011

Choosa Mweemba, (Lusaka based photographer, graphic designer & video editor) wrote 14.02.11 by e-mail:
I have read through your text on the art museum project. I believe it
is well overdue and now is a good time to embark on such a project as
Zambia is quickly moving into the digital age. More and more telecoms
companies are pushing for faster, more reliable and more affordable
connectivity options.
I am ready to help in whatever capacity my skills can be beneficial to
the project. Feel free to contact me for anything.

You can talk to Chosa Mweemba at: <chosa@fiahlink.com>
and see some of his work at: http://chosamweemba.blogspot.com

Ivo Herzig, Kalomo based IT expert, e-mailed 15.02.11:

I just speed-read the draft, and I think its a very interesting project. I'm not at all an
expert on art/art scene, but I think it is a very interesting topic.

Elisha Zulu, Lusaka based artist, emailed 23.02.11:
Thanks mr witkamp for your email. This too is a brilliant idea. I will read through and make my observations. Pls keep in touch

Flexon Mizinga, Historian and Executive Secretary of the National Museum Board e-mailed 24.02.11:
I have read your write up and the blog regarding the Virtue Museum of Art. This is an inovative idea which should be supported by all those interested in heritage management and interpretation.
I invite colleagues to post comments on this inovation. I know this is a new concept but this world is moving fast technogically and we need to catch up.
Keep it up Bert.

Patrick Mweemba, Choma based artist, e-mailed 25.02.11:
Bravo man bravo. We will support the website museum all the way. It
sounds a new idea but also   a viable project. Patrick Mweemba.

16 February, 2011

Why this Blog?

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doc initiated : 15 February 2011
last update  : 19 February 2011

WHAT is a Blog?

You can compare a blog to a newspaper or magazine: a blog has a publisher (often also the editor, administrator and main author) and a facility to receive and publish responses from viewers / visitors. There are at least five main differences with conventionally printed communication media:
  • A conventional paper once published has its information fixed in permanent matter. Information on a blog can be edited or added on to at any time (provided the blog is activated and you are connected).
  • The paper or magazine in its public form is a genuine material object, it is truly an objective embodiment of information. The blog is virtual reality - it just exists on your screen as information (information = a difference that makes a difference, as Gregory Bateson said, quite some time back, at the beginning of the cybernetic revolution. A difference, by itself, has no matter). You can "capture" the virtual reality of the blog you are plugged into - or one of its pages - as it is at a particular point in time in material form by printing it out. You can also electronically save it, for later retrieval and processing.
  • It usually is easy for a blog viewer to immediately submit a response in the form of a comment meant to be published or in the form of an e-mail which may or may not be intended to be published. This feature promotes in principle a high degree of active involvement of the viewership, or, at least, opens up such possibilities. A viewer can respond to information provided by a blog any time and from any place (provided there is Internet connection) and send a response or forward information easily to any place / receiver (having Internet connection).
  • Setting up a blog, in a technical sense is easy and requires very little equipment or capital. This stands in great contrast to the expense and complicated technology of conventional publishing. To do a blog you only need a computer, a working Internet connection, an account with a Internet provider (both for your Internet connection and the host of your blog), a manageable amount of technical skill, motivation and time.
  • Access to the blog (to receive, disperse or submit information) is free (though getting connected to the Internet usually does have a cost).
These features combined make a blog very suited for the "broadcasting" and recording of ongoing processes and actions, their documentation, dissemination, and associated public debate and comment.

A blog is a fine example of a product of the most recent, now firmly established revolution in the development of mankind: electronic communication.

WHY a ZamArt-Blog?

The amazing thing is: to date, or better, hopefully, up to to date we do not have anything that we could call an IT platform for the (visual) arts.

It really is amazing. It is not that hard to do and once you have it you can visit the site or blog every once-in-a-while and bring up or possibly bring down something you want to bring up or down.

Talk publicly to people, fellow artists, supporters, art interested folks and organisations.

Yes, the idea beyond this blog idea is to set up a Virtual Museum of Zambian Art proper. But just a blog already is a good thing. We've got to start somewhere......keeping the site in sight.

HOW to Contribute?

You can participate passively by viewing posted entries.

You can participate actively by:
  • Submitting comment(s)
  • Submitting posts (entries) for publication
  • E-mailing art related  suggestions, ideas or other information which may or may not be published as by your instructions (to zamfactor@gmail.com)
  • Propose measures to improve ZamArt-Blog functionality
  • Forwarding ZamArt-Blog posts to interested parties, spreading the viewership

RULES for External Contribution by Comments or Postings

Rules for external contributions and contributors are laid down in the policy page. In summary:
  • Anyone is free to submit comments or posts on (Zambian) art related topics BUT:
  • Publication is at the discretion of the Blog administrator
  • The administrator may abbreviate or edit text. The administrator shall communicate with the author of the edited text and seek consent for publication before publication.
  • External contributors must ensure that copyright laws and regulations are observed and are solely responsible for such adherence.
  • External contributors are responsible for submitted content, the administrator for its proper publication.


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The text below serves to gauge interest in the proposed virtual Zambian art museum and to solicit ideas for its development. I believe that in Zambia IT is underutilised and a better use of Internet to some extent can make up for the current lack of a physical national art museum or gallery, the lack of (accessible) art related information or documentation, and poor interaction between art interested parties. You are cordially invited to post your comments on this blog and/or to zfactor@zamtel.zm or zamfactor@gmail.com (and do save what you want to say on your electronic device: just in case it does not come through - you need to be heard!).




by Gijsbert Witkamp*

doc initiated  : 14 Feb 2011
doc updated :   1 Mar 2011

1.     Purpose of text

The text below serves to gauge interest within Zambia and beyond for the establishment of the or a Virtual Museum of Zambian Art. By “art” I mean in the first place and initially modern visual art in Zambia. I’ll refer to the proposed museum as www.zamartmuseum.
        Substantial interest in Zambia is essential for such a project to succeed. Primary parties are the artists themselves and their organisations; NGO’s and charities supporting art development in Zambia; museums active in modern art collecting, preserving and exhibiting; educational institutions or facilities having art departments or courses; patrons of the arts and private collectors; gallery owners; students, writers and journalists of Zambian art – in short all those who have a deep and sincere interest in making and contributing to the development of Zambian art.
        Substantial interest beyond Zambia could take the form of support to establish the project. The nature of such support shall depend on Zambian interest in the project, and capabilities to manage and sustain it.

2.     Purpose of project

The purpose of the project is to develop and establish a virtual museum of Zambian modern art. A virtual museum is a museum constructed as a website. The functions / objectives of such a website are outlined below.
        It is relevant, in this regard, to note that there is no physical museum of (visual) art in Zambia to date. Equally relevant is that we have few Zambian websites dedicated to Zambian art. One is the Insaka International Artists Workshop website, at www.artshost.org/insaka, last updated 26th July 2004. This site is/was affiliated with the Visual Arts Council of Zambia and has/had its office at Rockston Studio, Lusaka. Rockston itself has a well designed website including online shopping, see www.artshost.org/rockston; but I could not find a single date stamp anywhere in the site and the e-mail facility does not seem to work well.

3.     What is www.zamartmuseum to do?

Physical museums, in theory, have a number of basic functions (such as preservation, conservation, documentation, presentation, exhibition, education and research). In practice a museum may concentrate on some of the above functions (rather than all of them) and possibly have others attached to it.
        The core function of a virtual museum is the gathering and storage of information and the provision of a channel to access such information. The type of information depends on the type of museum. Nowadays physical museums have developed and are developing virtual museums that allow the site visitor to, for example, make a museum tour or access a collection. (Try Google for this and you’ll see where we are going). Virtual museums may also incorporate interactive (educational) programmes and have special facilities for communication (social networks) about museum related topics.

What would we expect a virtual Zambian art museum to do? The site, in any case, should:

a.    Document:
a.1.   Art work (in Zambia or out of Zambia by artists having worked in Zambia)
a.2.   Artists (working or having worked in Zambia)
a.3.   Art organisations and institutions

b.    Be a platform for publications:
b.1.   On Zambian art, art events and art history
b.2.   Have a bibliography and references of published and unpublished material

c.    Inform and educate:
c.1.   Have selected information readily accessible to site visitors
c.2.   Have virtual exhibitions as by slide shows, PowerPoint presentations and video’s
c.3.   Have interactive educational programmes

d.    Announcements:
d.1.   Exhibitions
d.2.   Other events / news

e.    Facilitate contacts:
e.1.   Provide addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, websites, Blogs, and social networks of art interested parties.

f.    Facilitate sales:
f.1.     Of art by an online art shop
f.2.     By referring interested parties to individual artists, art organisations and galleries
f.3.     By advertising (art, art materials, publications, art related services)

g.    Facilitate and stimulate debate:
g.1.   The site should be associated to a social network and/or Blog for public debate, exchange of views or information on current events and topics.

h.    Develop a strong income generating section:
h.1.   The site might “rent out” dedicated pages to individual artists and art interested parties.
h.2.   Charge a fee for services provided under (f).
h.3.   Produce and distribute cd’s with informative and educational material.
h.4.   Produce and distribute cd’s and perhaps dvd’s for professional documentation of art objects and art processes.

i.     Be both artistic tool and product
i.1.   The site must be well designed and creatively used.

4.     Pro’s, Contra’s and Conditions

There are a number of clear advantages in setting up a www.zamartmuseum:
1.       It to some degree makes up for the current lack of a Zambian national art museum or gallery by making art information available.
2.       The cost of managing the site is only a fraction of the cost of running a physical museum. Once established site maintenance is relatively cheap.
3.       Global promotion of Zambian art, independent of location of the visitor.
4.       Flexibility: easy to add on, change or to remove.
5.       Development and site servicing can be done from any place having adequate connection.
6.       Possibility of interactive programmes and communication.
7.       Possibility of extending art education in schools.
8.       Unprecedented possibilities of participation and involvement by interested parties by provision of an Internet platform.

Disadvantages are or might be:
1.       Slow transmission obstructs full use of facility.
1.1.   This a crucial issue. It may be necessary to have a “light” version especially of the imagery.
2.       Constant need to update site content. Danger of lax site management.

1.       Have the right people to do the job.
2.       Adequate internal and external support.
3.       Inbuilt drive to make the project self sustaining.

5.     Some practical notes and ideas

Status of organisation:
The project can be managed as a private enterprise, by a dedicated organisation established for that purpose (NGO type) or as an (autonomous) unit of a relevant, existing organisation.

Executive team must have advanced IT/website design skills; art historian competences, excellent writing, management and income generating capacities. If the organisation is to have a Board key players must be represented in it.

If the project idea catches on the best would be to put a small founding / working committee into place of key supporting / contributing parties or individuals.
This typically is a project that can start on a low budget to build up to a point where convincingly external support can be applied for and raised.

Initial needs:
1.       Equipment: Excellent camera and scanner; website software, image processing software, 1 laptop, 1 desktop, 1 external hard drive, 2 printers.
2.       Office furniture, fittings and fixtures
3.       Accommodation (office + studio)
4.       Transport / vehicle
5.       Technical competences


*       The author of this text and initiator of this project has worked in Zambia as an artist; artist’s organiser; anthropological researcher of art; museum and crafts project manager; international development expert; and consultant for NGO’s in museum and crafts development, marketing and income generation.