TBA21–Academy presents a solo exhibition dedicated to the artist Dineo Seshee Bopape at Ocean Space. The exhibition is part of a two-year curatorial cycle entitled The Soul Expanding Ocean by Ocean Space’s 2021 and 2022 curator Chus Martínez.
Dineo Seshee Bopape’s work begins with a journey to the Solomon Islands, and from there she moves on to plantations on the Mississippi, to Jamaica, and then back home to South Africa. Travel becomes a language that allows us to imagine a reversal of the wrongdoings of colonialism. Bopape’s approach merges historical inquiry, traditional wisdom, a sense of illusion, imagination and hope in order to stage the ‘post-colonial’ agency of the Ocean as a timeless being.
The commission is a further step in her practice towards the marriage of the Earth and the memory of the Ocean. The rocks Bopape uses in her practice teach us to understand how ancient, mythical times are not...of the past, because oppression and colonialism still exist, and destruction and the exploitation of resources still continue today. The semiotics of the slave ship embedded in the Ocean are conceived as an opening through a complex juxtaposition of artistic materials and language, an opportunity to enchant and unravel contemporary everyday life and aid towards its transformation. The spirits and energy that drive our actions and connect us with the environment around us – is a central theme in Bopape’s video and augmented reality works, activating a multifarious presence.
Bopape was part of the second voyage to the Solomon Islands organized by TBA21–Academy with the exhibition curator and Leader of The Current II fellowship program, Chus Martínez. Bopape’s experience of the Ocean in the Solomon Islands opened immersive ways to form connections between this new sensorial experience, the ancestors, slavery routes, and a practice capable of touching the audience the same way the spirits of the Ocean touched her. The commission is also informed by a research residency at Alligator Head Foundation, a Jamaican-based marine conservation foundation initiated by TBA21–Academy; managing the East Portland Fish Sanctuary and focusing on the intersection of science, art and community.
‘Imagine a seascape of heavy rain, in the Solomon Islands. You were out swimming and all of a sudden you are showered in raindrops falling down, so dense, so powerful as you never experienced before. You go a little bit under the water to seek shelter. Funny, who would have told you that you could submerge in water to have a roof…! With your nose afloat, your eyes witness the millions of drops creating a pattern on the surface of the Ocean. Those patterns are beautiful and yet, you suddenly recall them as marks on the skin left by wounds. Millions of lives have been scarred, touched by weapons, have experienced unthinkable pain, have been thrown into the Ocean and died.’ - Chus Martínez
For the past few months, the TBA21–Academy team and I have been enjoying imaginary journeys with artists Dineo Seshee Bopape and Diana Policarpo, working on new commissions for TBA21–Academy's Ocean Space in Venice. Both commissions, together with the artistic journeys and the research that nourished the works, give a sounding background to the question of how we understand the Ocean: How do we formally connect to an entity without form, and why is art so important, so fundamental to the issues of the Ocean and the climate emergency?
One answer is that if we are not able to experience all dimensions that potentially connect us with—instead of distinguishing us from—the Ocean, we will not know how to act. And acting is what we aim for. An action that must not be restricted to avoiding further damage, an action meant to create conditions to experience ourselves and every being as part of life, a life we respect and listen to.
Diana Policarpo’s installation starts with an inquiry into the Ilhas Selvagens, a Portuguese administered archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean. Dineo Seshee Bopape’s work begins with a journey we took together to the Solomon Islands, and from there she moves on to plantations on the Mississippi, to Jamaica, and then back home to South Africa. Travel, in both works, becomes a language that allows timelines to converge and intersect in the space of waters, a revisit to ‘dogs that are not asleep’.
These works are brought together in order to provide a powerful expression of a new life. Joy, kinship, and trust in life’s diversity, in the many non-linguistic, and yet fertile ways of transmission are the center of a new pedagogy through art. A pedagogy that strives for equality and future forms of organizing survival that respects all that is alive.
Curator of the cycle The Soul Expanding Ocean at Ocean Space
Entrada actualizada el el 16 feb de 2022
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