Dineo Seshee Bopape
Dineo Seshee Bopape’s installations examine humanity’s complex relationship with the land, looking closely at racial capitalism, conquest, colonialism and their legacies as well as our metaphysical relationships to the earth – as elemental matter, as body and as a life resource.
She often works with found objects, plastic and natural substances, such as soil, clay and wood. Accompanied by the sounds of the wind, waves, animals, objects and human voices ‘instrumentalised’ to speak, sound and sing, Bopape’s animation Master Harmoniser (Ile aya, moya, la, ndokh) was drawn with clay found at various ports involved in the transatlantic slave trade.
It came about in response to a nineteenth-century photograph depicting the brutally lacerated back of a runaway slave, known alternately as Gordon or Peter. The images of his river- and mountain-like scarring were originally used to draw attention to the brutality of slavery and call for its abolition.
In her work, the artist retraces that violence while underscoring the resilience of survivors – the descendants of the enslaved – across time and terrain. She invites us to reflect on witnessing legacies of trauma, asking what the land remembers as well as what the waters want us to remember through time and why.
Dineo Seshee Bopape (1981, ZA) was born on a Sunday. If she were Ghanaian, her name would be Akosua/Akos for short. In the year of her birth, the Brixton riots took place; two people were injured when a bomb exploded in a Durban shopping centre.
Bobby Sands dies, MTV is launched, the Boeing 767 makes its first air flight, Umkhonto we Sizwe performs numerous underground assault operations against the apartheid state. There was an earthquake in China that killed maybe 50 people. Hosni Mubarak was elected president of Egypt, there was a coup d’etat in Ghana.
Princess Diana of Britain married Charles. Bob Marley dies. Apartheid SA invaded Angola. AIDS is identified/created/named. Salman Rushdie releases Midnight’s Children. In the region of her birth: Her paternal grandmother died. Julius Malema is born. Millions of people cried. Millions of people laughed! The world’s population was apparently at around 4.529 billion.
Dineo Seshee Bopape (born 1981 in Polokwane, lives in Johannesburg)
Master Harmoniser (Ile aya, moya, la, ndokh)
Video, 25.08 min.
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg and Beirut