Samra Mayanja: Bone Deep Deliverance

Oct 10, 2023



Grand Luxe Hall, Western Front


7:30 p.m.


As part of LIVE Biennale, Samra Mayanja presented Bone Deep Deliverance (SCREAM II). The performance is a continuation of an earlier sound work by the artist titled SCREAM, that was vocalised by a Black experimental choir that the artist assembled in 2020.

Bone Deep Deliverance (SCREAM II) performatively and sonically explores engulfment, as in;

    telling a joke 

    about a secret sky

    that can’t be told otherwise. 

Working within the sonic architecture of Mayanja’s vocal improvisations were two vocalists, Oluwasola (Sola) Olowo-Ake and Oluwasayo (Sayo) Olowo-Ake, cellist Peggy Lee, and alto saxophonist Andromeda Monk; with a theatrical appearance by LIVE Biennale director Derrick Chang.

Taking place in the round, audience members were led to their seats by the performers one-by-one, and each handed their program: a short message handwritten on a crumpled piece of heart-shaped paper. The Grand Luxe Hall was dimly lit, with pink and blue stage lights softly illuminating arrangements of objects found around Western Front. Piano benches, microphone and music stands, ladders, sand bags, and garbage bins came together in sculptural assemblages that doubled as performance stations.

Throughout Bone Deep Deliverance (SCREAM II), Mayanja, Lee, Monk, and Sola and Sayo Olowo-Ake worked through sonic and movement-based scores that considered the capacity for disruption within performance. At the midpoint of the piece, Mayanja wheeled in a laptop and gold microphone on a folding pram while Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” (2008) reverberated through the room. While Mayanja improvised over the track, Monk retrieved bundles of glow sticks stashed under the audience’s seats and tossed them across the floor, Lee folded and flew paper airplanes, Sola Olowo-Ake performed choreography on a raised platform, and Sayo Olowo-Ake shook gin gimlets at a provisional bar. Following an interjection by Chang, the energy came to a sudden halt. The performers repeated the mantra “I do what I do, and you do what you can do about it,” while tidying the space. 

The forty-five-minute performance concluded in a laughing fit as Lee, Mayanja, Monk, and Sayo and Sola Olowo-Ake left the room; only to return for an irreverent encore of laughter directed towards the audience. 

SCREAM II expanded on a foundational text and music written and composed by Mayanja which was previously developed in Leeds, England and exhibited at MaMA, Rotterdam, with vocalists Banana and Orange, and pianist Rev Chunky. The work featured sound design by Mayanja and Liza Violet, costumes by Margaret Zawede, dramaturgy by Malik Nashad Sharpe, and collaborative support from Herfa Martina Thompson, Munesu Mukombe, Dee Byrne, and Meera Priyanka.

A presentation of the performance was also held on Oct, 13, 2023 in EDAM (Experimental Dance and Music)’s ground floor studio space that is accessible to wheelchair users.

Presented in partnership with LIVE Biennale.

Photo and video documentation is available upon request. 

Western Front is a non-profit
artist-run centre in Vancouver.

We acknowledge the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations as traditional owners of the land upon which Western Front stands.