Artworks made from hacked materials

Sunday December 31 2023

“Musunda matta,” 2023, acrylic on canvas by Yiga Joshua. PHOTO | COURTESY


Ghanaian artist Afia Prempeh is a genre-bending painter who uses aesthetic traditions as a means of hacking them. Her background in still-life and landscape painting informs her interdisciplinary approach to portraiture.

Afia is among the 30 artists from Ghana, Uganda, DR Congo and Rwanda, whose works are on display at the exhibition "Silent Invasions: The Art of Material Hacking” at Amasaka Gallery and several locations in Masaka City, southern Uganda.

The exhibition opened on November 10, 2023, and set to close on January 13, 2024. The current works are a continuation of the artist’s solo exhibition "We Could Be", which was held at Gallery 1957 in Ghana.

With the series, Afia proposes to portray the real and imagined lives of contemporary women through tales gleaned in oil on canvas.

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“This body of work has to do with transition. The subjects are on a journey. I myself am also on a journey. It’s a spiritual journey: searching…seeking…believing…I had to go through certain transformations; I had to discover certain things about myself to get here,” she says. It is curated by Sascia Bailer, Juliy Gyemant, Nantume Violet, Tracy Naa Koshie Thompson and Zitoni Kayonga Tristan Tani.

The exhibition delves into the expansive concept of hacking, exploring its applications to materials, ideologies, and intangible viral forms.


According to the organizers, the exhibition silently invades an architecture abandoned to its unrealized future: like foliage slowly expanding in a construction left to its fate, art is sprouting on unfinished brick walls like unusual mushrooms, mingling with the structure to finally overtake it.

Whether it is abandoned architectures, habits of viewing art, norms of communication, the social resignifications of collective memories, the politics of safety and surveillance, the politics of representation, historical narratives– hacking as a form of insertion of new subjectivities into existing (and often narrowly defined) systems can take many forms and have many subjects. It is not more and not less than hijacking the vantage point to steer the narration towards new perspectives, they add.

The installation work “Nature Invasion: Ndegeya” is a manifestation of the Ugandan artist Katesi Jacqueline Kalange’s manifestation of her architectural-sculptural experiments envisioning the resurgence of natural entities in spaces where they once thrived.

“Nature Invasion: Ndegeya” made of recycled plastic, wood, pint and metal is a testament to the concept of biomimicry, drawing inspiration from the intricate and yet charming lifestyle of a male weaver bird (known as Ndegeya in Luganda).

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The current body of work “Skydream III,” “The Invitation,” and “A Walk in the Park” by the Rwandese artist Dan ‘Ngaara’ Ngalamulume reflects on solitude and introspection.

He attempts to reproduce the nature of solitude within each of his pieces by capturing the chaotic harmony within in the mind as a train of thought, a specific moment of the introspective process, or the moment itself of being and experiencing.

Ngaara’s use of lines traces the unexpected paths of internal seeking. They could be a meandering path into deeper understanding or a sudden plummet into the unknown.

The work by the Ghanaian artist Daniel Arnan Quarshie deals with loss, absence, and memory, serving as a catalyst for public discussion on collective memory, the passage of time, and the celebration of life.

By giving form and presence to absence his artworks are reinterpretations of time, space and experience holding together the past, present and future.

Arnan’s “Maame Adakaba” is a portrait of his late mother. The piece, incorporating hi mother’s jewelry box, carries the ornaments that once adorned her.

“Rewinder,” is his late father’s analogue cassette tape rewinder, reminds the artist of the many times the family anxiously awaited the father’s return from trips, anticipating the new video cassettes he would bring. These works serve as vessels, preserving the memory of the departed and creating avenues for new memories.

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Yiga Joshua (Uganda) invites you into the realm of imagination as he brings the byayi doll (banana fiber doll) to life. Creating a bridge between the life of people and the life of things, the popular children’s toys are animated on Yiga’s canvases to replay the artist’s childhood memories. The dolls are centered on canvas and in form of installations “Musunda matta,” “Kapyata,” and “The cave of dolls.”

“Growing up, the byayi dolls played a crucial role in our childhood development, fostering creativity and cognitive skills through play, so it is essential to recognize the importance of these dolls.

They represent not only parenthood and childhood but also the imagination and potential of the human spirit. I believe that our parents as children used these dolls to bring us to life through their imagination,” Yiga says.

The Ghanaian artist and curator Tracy Naa Koshie Thompson has an interest in plasticity, with a practice of post-producing foods. She deconstructs foods such as noodles, biscuits, and porridge into myriad of ambiguous forms reminiscent of geological and biological forms.

In this exhibition, Tracy presents an installation and video work post-produced from noodles titled “Blue noodles”. The videos were generated from samples dissected from post-produced membranes of noodles using microscopy and Digital Elevation Modeling to explore the alien terrains of foods.

The Ugandan visual artist Sandra Suubi has a 12-meter-long dress installation made of secondhand clothes titled “Olugoye lwaffe” (our dress in Luganda). It is a wearable sculpture that employs both the visual and performing arts to draw attention to the effect of secondhand clothes on our environment through processions in public space.