Exploring the symbolism of ‘Byayi’

Artist: Yiga Joshua / Photos provided by Vodo Art Society & Lab

Vodo Art Society & Lab is an arts collective and /or society of artists of different specializations operating under one roof and expressing their creativity through different types of artworks ranging from painting, dance, poetry, music and theatre. Since the foundation encourages and directly supports individual artistic expression in the form of music, literature, and the visual arts, it was our pleasure to contribute to the presentation of Yiga Joshua’s first solo exhibition ‘ZADDE’ alongside MOTIVUg. Curated by Carol Kagezi and Mukholi Trevor, the exhibition ran from 10th to 20th February 2023.

The “Zadde” exhibition comprised four main elements – the plantation, the cave of dolls, the 12-foot installation with a looped video showing the process of how the dolls are made, and 35 paintings. Zadde is an exploration of the banana fibre (byayi) doll, its materiality and how that constructs images of parenthood, childhood and the intersections between the two states of being. The material used in this work is also a potent symbol of the effects of environmental degradation and climate change, bringing us to introspect into how our lives and the environment relate in symbiosis.

In his artist statement, Yiga Joshua expressed his appreciation for the versatility and dynamic persona of the banana fiber dolls. Growing up, the byayi dolls played a crucial role in his childhood development, fostering creativity and cognitive skills through play. The dolls represented not only parenthood and childhood but also the imagination and potential of the human spirit. Through this exhibition, the artist aimed to share his appreciation of these dolls and help preserve their legacy for future generations.

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John Mark Bwanika

John Mark Bwanika is a medical doctor and Global E-health specialist. He is a founding partner of Rocket Health Africa, a digital health and Telemedicine Company in Africa, where he serves as the Chief Operations & Research Officer. He has previously worked as a research medical doctor and coordinator of clinical research at the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) Limited, Kampala.

Linda Mutesi

Linda is a feminist lawyer, curator, and social entrepreneur. She believes in the sharing of wealth and investment into our communities and explores this work with The Future Generations (FG) Foundation.