Samra Mayanja: The Living and the Stale
10 February – 4 June 2023
Wednesdays – Sundays, 10am–5pm
The Tetley presents The Living and the Stale, artist Samra Mayanja’s first major solo exhibition, exploring what it means to lose and be lost.
Mayanja presents a new body of work in the form of installations, drawings, a score and moving image work.
Mayanja’s research centres on secretary-scribe, Ham Mukasa (c.1870–1956), a central figure in brokering relations between Uganda and other nations. In 1902, Mukasa wrote Uganda’s Katikiro in England, one of the first published travel diaries written by an African person coming to Europe. The text documents the journey of Buganda’s prime ministerial figure to England to attend Edward VII’s coronation.
In turn, Mayanja went on a lone expedition to Uganda, visiting sites significant to Mukasa’s life, and at the same time encountering the previously unknown interior world of her deceased father.
One key site Mayanja visited was Namugongo Cathedral, built upon a historic execution site in Buganda.* Mukasa was nearly killed there in the 1886 massacre of Christians by King Mwanga II.
Mayanja’s interest in Mukasa is his ability to poetically frame – for himself and the reader – things he was seeing for the first time. The images he constructs in the text oscillate between rolling observations, absurd (mis)translations and compelling diaristic accounts.
The exhibition brings together the artist’s personal experiences with those of Mukasa. You are invited to enter into the galleries – treated as the inside of a dispersed film – that play out Mayanja’s autobiographical journeys as scattered, stuck and expanded narratives.
*The Baganda are one of the tribes within the region known as Uganda. Their kingdom is called Buganda and their language is Luganda.
Samra Mayanja: The Living and the Stale is part of The Tetley Jerwood Commissions programme, supported by Jerwood Arts’ Development Programme Fund
NOTES TO EDITORS
Samra Mayanja is a writer and artist. Her work records and fictionalises the narratives that the living conjure in order to deal with loss. She also observes and presents the poetics that life offers us.
Mayanja’s work is the residue from translations between writing, drawing, animation, pedagogy, film, installation and performance. Her practice is heavily supported by the instability of these translations and how the limits of each medium give life to the next.
She has exhibited and performed widely, including at MAMA (Rotterdam), Kampnagel (Hamburg) and Eastside Projects (Birmingham) and lectured at Glasgow School of Art, Museum of London, University of Leeds and UP Projects (London).
About The Tetley
The Tetley is a contemporary art gallery located in the stunning art deco headquarters of the former Tetley Brewery. From the heart of Leeds’ South Bank, The Tetley creates a platform for amazing emerging artists, presents breathtaking free exhibitions and helps communities and young people in Leeds find their creative voice.
The Tetley is supported by Arts Council England, Tetley’s Beers and Leeds City Council.
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