Download: Samra Mayanja: letter to the show.pdf

29th July 20211

Dear a rant! a reel!, 

A network of words, building an understanding through absence. 

“I want to scream in lower frequencies”2

Black, as the launch pad for light, the glossy surface for reflection. 

The surface and the depths of obsidian,3


I see me in the foreground and then the back. 


swelling, swollen pictures. Beefy in corners where the liquid has got too much - what if the image drowns with us? what if…? 

swollen the way that bodies do when they drown. A rum-filled, drunken image

and will the wood rot

and if the water evaporates into the paper

and will crumple die?

Decomposition of the work 

(staging the decomposition of the work)

I see our4 reflection in the blackened parts.

L                                 E                                A                                K

onto the God perspective of the picturesque. The human eye can only see so far, so wide. The peripheral can only stretch to here.

Quite sickly/grotesque: the bubbles and the bumps. How do air pockets arise? Perhaps the painting is breathing or gasping? 

It’s not water it’s golden - a liquid gold that isn’t oil! 

A text that I can only meet through us. The title, ‘No Abolition of Slavery: or the Universal Empire of Love; a poem by James Boswell’

Behind the blur or the backbone of the blur, or the back of the bone of the blur. 

The text got me to begin with; referential and in that - archival. When they meet you (the work), in the future, they’ll be thankful for you and the people and moments that make up your sentences. A deep generosity.5 


1 And after that I wrote a letter to Ray.
2 I remember thinking, “to what extent am I projecting my own work onto you. Or, what am I projecting onto you -
where does it launch from in me and how?”

3 During a workshop series called ‘Frequency, Embodiment and Melanin-o-Phonic* Space’ artist Evan Ifekoya introduced us to obsidian. I don’t remember the details of the conversation but I remember seeing obsidian on a slide for the first time and thinking that, even when mediated through screens that black dazzles and reflects.

4 There’s interpretation and reinterpretation in the act of ‘fan-girling’. The fans aren’t always forgiving, adoring and passive. I remember me and Kanye after ‘808 & Heartbreak’ and before ‘JESUS IS KING’ ... (side eye stage left)

5 Looking out the window thinking my elders have a house they don’t live in and another that they’ve been building my whole life. We sleep on the carpet of their dreams. Some therapists call it ‘magical thinking’, artists call it ‘futurity’.

6 What is the etymology of the word surrender?