praise your capacity to bury
our shipwrecks and ruined cities
praise your watery grave
human reef of bones
praise your capacity to remember
your library of drowned stories
museum of lost treasures
your vast archive of desire
praise your tidalectics
your migrant routes
and submarine roots
Craig Santos Perez excerpt from Praise Song for Oceania
Taking the stories and histories of the Indian Ocean as its departure point, the group exhibition Indigo Waves and Other Stories: Re-Navigating the Afrasian Sea and Notions of Diaspora brings together 13 contemporary artists, historians, filmmakers, musicians, writers and thinkers to investigate, unpack and shed light on some of the smaller and bigger historical, cultural and linguistic links between the continents of Africa and Asia. The exhibition approaches the Indian Ocean as a communal horizon from which to read Afrasian (that is, belonging to both Africa and Asia) histories of forced and unforced movement through currents of mercantile and colonial empire.
Ziwa Kuu, the Swahili Sea, the Afrasian Sea, the Indian Ocean, Ratnakara, Eastern Ocean, Indic Ocean or Bahari Hindi are just a few of the names used to characterise a body of water that has been dubbed the oldest continuum in human history. This water mass covers some 20% of the world’s total oceanic area and spreads between the East African coast, bordering Asia in the north, engulfing Australia in the east and stretching south to the Southern Ocean. There is much in a name, they say, but no single name seems to have the potential of encompassing; containing; signifying or expressing all that this body of water stands for, tells, sings or invokes. It is too complex, too deep, too vast and pregnant with a plenitude of histories, to carry just one name. What is for certain is that rather than divide, it connects geographies, cultures, peoples, languages, foods, sounds, winds, waters, economies, philosophies and more. The ocean is a fluid joint, a junction of and for affinities and realignments prior to nation-state allegiances.
Indigo Waves and Other Stories is guest curated by renowned art historians and curators Natasha Ginwala and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, with Michelangelo Corsaro.
Cetus Chin-Yun Kuo
Luvuyo Equiano Nyawose
Myriam Omar Awadi
Sancintya Mohini Simpson with Isha Ram Das
Shiraz Bayjoo in dialogue with Traci Kwaai
This exhibition is presented in partnership with Gropius Bau and SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin, and Vasl Artists’ Association, Karachi, among others.
Zeitz MOCAA’s curatorial exhibition and programming is proudly supported by Gucci.
Book tickets here
Akinbode Akinbiyi (b.1946, Oxford, England)
Akinbiyi graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from Ibadan University. The artist has been a freelance photographer since 1977 and was awarded the STERN reportage stipend to work in the cities of Lagos, Kano and Dakar in 1987. In 1993, he co-founded UMZANZSI, a cultural center in Clermont Township, Durban, South Africa. His primary photographic focus is large, sprawling megacities. The artist wanders and meanders the highways and byways to understand and deeply engage with the modern metropolis. He works primarily in and on the cities of Lagos, Cairo, Kinshasa and Johannesburg as well as Khartoum, Addis Ababa, Dakar, and Bamako. He currently lives and works in Berlin.
Ayesha Hameed (Edmonton, Canada)
Hameed explores the legacies of indentureship and slavery through the figures of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Her Afrofuturist approach combines performance, sound essays, videos and lectures. Hameed examines the mnemonic power of these media and their capacity to transform the body into a body that remembers. The motifs of water, borders and displacement, recurrent in her work, offer a reflection on migration stories and materialities, and, more broadly, on the relations between human beings and what they imagine as nature. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths University of London and a Kone Foundation Research Fellow in the Arts at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. She is living and working in London, England.
Cetus Chin-Yun Kuo (b.1989, Taichung, Taiwan)
Kuo is an artist-researcher and filmmaker. She relocated to Berlin in 2016 before returning to Taiwan in 2018. Kuo studied at Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) and graduated from Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin. Her work focuses on the interactions between people and the spaces which they occupy. Her research often occurs in anthropogenic landscapes, in which she intervenes with an aim to challenge the rationales of a collective, omniscient consciousness forged in the context of colonialism, (mass) migration and diasporic movements. Through her background in architecture, she realises transdisciplinary projects that are often presented as installations, performances and in-situ interventions. Kuo currently works in both Berlin and Taipei.
Cinga Samson (b.1986, Cape Town, South Africa)
Samson is a self-taught artist who grew up between the Eastern Cape and Cape Town, South Africa. He creates large- and small-scale figurative oil paintings derived from his own image. His work reflects on the complexity of South African society and the artist’s own identity. His figures command an unusual autonomy and authority and inhabit a world almost secret, holy and distant. In 2015, Samson was awarded the Tollman Award for Visual Art. He is currently living and working in Cape Town, South Africa.
Hasawa (b.1981, Mahé, Seychelles)
A triple-nationality artist who paints, draws and sculpts, Hasawa is an associate artist at la Cité des Arts la Reunion and a founding member of two artistic collectives: FatFingers and Fukushin. He is a polyglot who, at minimum, plays with English, French and the numerous creoles of the Indian Ocean, and, at maximum, uses a ‘langaz’ inspired by several necklaces composed of glyph seeds. The use of language is an artistic act that leads to other creative activities, including poetry. His installations are merged with poetic spoken performance, where the work is part ritual and not just sculpture. The work is a relic/artifact, activated by the artist, and contains performative energy linking the speaker and the audience. Hasawa currently lives and works in Reunion Island.
Isha Ram Das (b.1993, Cessnock, Australia)
Das is a composer and sound artist primarily concerned with ecologies of environment and culture. He works with experimental sound techniques to produce installations, performances and recordings. He has performed at institutions such as the Sydney Opera House; Black Dot Gallery, Melbourne; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Metro Arts, Brisbane; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and Boxcopy, Brisbane. His ongoing projects include his collaborative practice with sibling Sancintya Mohini Simpson, and Untitled (Death Song) with Megan Cope as musical director. In 2019, he was the recipient of the Lionel Gell Award for Composition. Das is currently based in Brisbane, Australia.
Luvuyo Equiano Nyawose (b.1994, eThekwini, South Africa)
An artist, curator, filmmaker and researcher, Nyawose’s current work and research unpack notions of intimacy, spatiality, public communion and Black Oceanic Humanities of the Indian Ocean. Nyawose is interested in developing and cultivating research and artistic methodologies around Black cultural production in Africa and its diaspora. He obtained an MFA at the Michaelis School of Fine Arts, University of Cape Town in 2021; a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Curatorship from the Centre for Curating the Archive, UCT in 2018 and a Bachelor of Arts in Motion Picture Medium from AFDA’s School for the Creative Economy in Cape Town in 2016. He is a 2022 Foam Paul Huf Nominee and due to commence his PhD studies at Brown University in September 2022.
Malala Andrialavidrazana (b.1971, Madagascar)
Graduating from the National Architecture School of Paris-La Villette (1996), Andrialavidrazana’s career began by extending thoughtful investigations of Madagascan burial structures to other cities of the Global South, earning her the HSBC Photography Prize (2004). Her practice is driven by an ethical commitment to reversing problematic gazes. As her full body of work draws the contours and contradictions of globalisation, her latest photocollage series reframes misconceptions derived from colonialism. By subverting and repurposing biased norms and reinstating unsung figures, her approach resolutely turns towards history, opening the possibility of alternative narratives while evidencing a profound engagement with contemporary issues and developments. She lives and works in Paris, France.
Myriam Omar Awadi (b.1983, Paris, France)
Awadi is a Franco-Comorian artist living and working in Reunion Island, where she has been teaching performance practices at the Ecole Supérieure d’Art de La Réunion since 2013 and is a member of the La Box/Run space collective since 2016. Awadi graduated in Fine Arts from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of the Reunion Island. Using writing, drawing, images and performance, she weaves the fabric of ordinary romances. Her work questions the ways in which we inhabit empty spaces by taking apart the spectacle, getting rid of what fascinates us in favour of what stings, and attacking the world with a love song.
Oscar Murillo (b. 1986, La Paila, Colombia)
Murillo emigrated to the United Kingdom, where he graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Arts, University of Westminster and an MA from the Royal College of Art, London. In 2019, Murillo was one of four artists to collectively be awarded the prestigious Turner Prize. The artist’s distinct works can be seen to constitute a sustained and evolving investigation of notions of community, informed by cross-cultural personal ties, as well as the constant transnational movement. He has created a visual language encompassing recurring elements and motifs that play out across a wide range of media, including painting, video, room-sized installations and actions. He lives and works in various locations.
Sancintya Mohini Simpson (b.1991, South Brisbane, Australia)
Simpson is a descendent of indentured Indian labourers sent to work on colonial sugar plantations in South Africa. Her work navigates the complexities of migration, memory and trauma, addressing gaps and silences within the colonial archive. She moves between painting, video, poetry and performance to develop narratives and construct rituals that reflect on her matrilineal lineage. Her poetry has been published in Cordite Poetry Review and Peril Magazine. Simpson is based in Brisbane, Australia.
Shiraz Bayjoo (b.1979, Port Louis, Mauritius)
Bayjoo is a contemporary multi-disciplinary artist who works with film, painting, photography, performance, and installation. His research-based practice focuses on personal and public archives, addressing cultural memory and post-colonial nationhood in a manner that challenges dominant cultural narratives. Bayjoo is a recipient of the Gasworks Fellowship and the Arts Council of England. He was an artist-in-residence at the Delfina Foundation in 2021 and has recently been awarded the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. In 2022, Bayjoo has been invited to the 13th edition of Bamako Encounters. He currently lives and works in London, England.
Sohrab Hura (b.1981, Chinsurah, India)
Hura’s work lies at the intersection of film, photographs, sound and text. Experimenting with form and using a journal-like approach, many of his works attempt to question a constantly shifting world and his own place within it. The Coast (2020) premiered at Berlinale 2021 and many of his films have been widely shown in international film festivals and have won various awards. Hura has self-published five books under the imprint UGLY DOG, including The Coast (2019), which won The Aperture – Paris Photo PhotoBook of the Year Award 2019. Hura lives and works in New Delhi, India.
Thania Petersen (b.1980, Cape Town, South Africa)
Petersen studied at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art in London. Her work engages in identity politics in contemporary South Africa, creating awareness of Islamic religious, cultural and traditional practices. She unpacks contemporary trends of Islamophobia, the continuing impact of Euro-American imperialism and colonialism in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and the increasing influence of right-wing ideologies. Colonialism and the socio-cultural impact of Western consumer culture are some of the threads in her work. Her practice is informed by her Cape Malay heritage and Sufi Islamic religious ceremonies. Petersen lives and works in Cape Town.
Traci Kwaai (b.1973, Cape Town, South Africa)
Traci Kwaai is a creative, teacher and storyteller and a sixth-generation Kalk Bay descendant. Her work is immersive; she tells stories of the marginalisation of the fishers because of slavery, colonialism and apartheid. She makes products that portray the memory and history of her community and the communities of Cape Town.