Indigo Waves Zeitz MOCAA
Figures 1853, Kolonien in Afrika und in der Süd-See © Malala Andrialavidrazana, 2016

Zeitz MOCAA’s Most Recent Exhibition Re-navigates the Afrasian Sea and Notions of Diaspora

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.

Following Invocations #1, a three-day gathering held at Zeitz MOCAA in March 2022, the museum today announces the opening of the international research and multi-chapter exhibition titled Indigo Waves and Other Stories: Re-Navigating the Afrasian Sea and Notions of Diaspora on 30 June 2022.

“For the first time, Zeitz MOCAA will bring together artists from across the African and Asian continents and their respective diasporas in one exhibition. We are extremely grateful to our sponsors and partners for the opportunity to present this project,” says Thato Mogotsi, Assistant Curator at Zeitz MOCAA.

Indigo Waves Zeitz MOCAA
Akinbode Akinbiyi, Kampala, 2021 (left) and eThekwini, 1993 (right)

Presented by Zeitz MOCAA in partnership, Indigo Waves and Other Stories is guest curated by the renowned art historians and curators Natasha Ginwala and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, with Michelangelo Corsaro, and in partnership with Gropius Bau and SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin, and Vasl Artists’ Association, Karachi, amongst others. Taking the stories and histories of the Indian Ocean as its departure point, the project, including the exhibition, brings together contemporary artists, 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 Zeitz MOCAA
Oscar Murillo, surge (social cataracts)

Soh Bejeng Ndikung and Ginwala state: “What does oceanic re-memory look like? How does one correspond with and commemorate this terrain that is equally one of connection as it is of indenture and trauma? As we transmit the complex knowledge that is harboured within many of us as water beings, Indigo Waves and Other Stories seeks to set up reciprocal motions that unsettle established geopolitical assessments and the dominance in academia around the North Atlantic. It is our intention with this project to attend to open tides of acculturation, Afrasian imaginaries, an atmosphere of multiple tongues and the monsoon cycles of the Indian Ocean system.”

A highlight for Zeitz MOCAA, Indigo Waves and Other Stories, includes ambitious new commissions from South African multidisciplinary artist Thania Petersen; visual artist Ayesha Hameed; the Réunionnais sculptor Hasawa; Franco-Comorian Myriam Omar Awadi and Mauritian artist Shiraz Bayjoo’s site-specific installation, made in collaboration with local historian and storyteller Traci Kwaai.

Other participating artists include Nigerian-English photographer Akinbode Akinbiyi; Malala Andrialavidrazana, a visual artist born in Madagascar; Indian photographer Sohrab Hura; Taiwanese artist-researcher and photographer Cetus Chin-Yun Kuo; Colombian painter Oscar Murillo; South African artist, curator, filmmaker and researcher Luvuyo Equiano Nyawose; South African painter Cinga Samson; and artist and researcher Sancintya Mohini Simpson with Isha Ram Das.

Indigo Waves Zeitz MOCAA
Luvuyo Equiano Nyawose

“This exhibition exemplifies the work we are committed to at Zeitz MOCAA – to uncover and highlight new and forgotten histories, and forge new oceanic pathways of connection and affiliation,” says Koyo Kouoh, Zeitz MOCAA Executive Director and Chief Curator. “It is only through the contributions of poets, artists, filmmakers and storytellers that we can reimagine ourselves in ways not dictated by dominant histories. We are showing that our voices and narratives carry the beauty of our entanglements and relationships over centuries, and now is the time that it takes centre stage.”

Indigo Waves and Other Stories opens on Thursday, 30 June 2022 and will be on view until 29 January 2023 on level 2 at Zeitz MOCAA.

Indigo Waves Zeitz MOCAA
Sohrab Hura, The Coast (film still)

Zeitz MOCAA’s curatorial and exhibition programming is proudly supported by GUCCI.

Zeitz MOCAA is situated at the Silo District, South Arm Road, V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa, and is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm. zeitzmocaa.museum