Exploring the idea of lostness, Mayanja presents a new body of work in the form of a novella, installations, drawings, a score and moving image work.
The exhibition brings together Mayanja’s poetry and images made whilst travelling around Uganda searching; searching for bark cloth and Ham Mukasa’s archive, but also being met by her father’s history.
Mayanja’s research centres secretary-scribe, Ham Mukasa (c.1870–1956). In 1902, Mukasa wrote a text entitled Uganda’s Katikiro in England which documented the journey of Buganda’s prime minister to England, for Edward VII’s coronation. This is one of the first travel diaries written by an African person coming to Europe.
Mayanja’s interest in Mukasa is his ability to poetically frame – for himself and the reader – that which he had never seen. The images he constructs oscillate between rolling observation, absurd (mis)translations and compelling diaristic accounts.
Audiences will be guided through galleries, which are treated as the inside of a ‘dispersed film’, playing out these journeys as scattered, stuck and expanded narratives.
Samra Mayanja: The Living and the Stale is part of The Tetley Jerwood Commissions programme, supported by Jerwood Arts’ Development Programme Fund