The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York is proud to present “Projects: Dineo Seshee Bopape“, the first solo exhibition of the contemporary artist’s work in New York. Until October 09, 2023, contemporary art lovers will have the pleasure of admiring the innovative and captivating work of South African artist Dineo Seshee Bopape.
Through this museum exhibition, Dineo Seshee Bopape explores how the political, spiritual and social histories of the African diaspora manifest themselves in the physical world and in water. The centerpiece of his presentation is “Lerato laka le a phela le a phela le a phela/My love is alive, is alive, is alive (2022)“, a multi-channel video and sound installation that also incorporates organic materials that refer to earth, rock and water, offering viewers a unique and completely immersive visual experience.
Dineo Seshee Bopape is known for her multidisciplinary approach and her use of unconventional subjects. She combines video, sound and organic materials in her often site-specific installations, giving her works a unique aesthetic and immersing the exhibition space in an atmosphere of its own, suited to her artistic creations.
The South African artist’s video installation takes as its starting point the spirits of the ocean. This multimedia work combines video recordings of the sea in Jamaica and the Pacific Ocean with audio recordings of coastal winds from West Africa, Louisiana, South Africa and Jamaica. The video performance presents a global overview of the ocean with the immersed hands of the contemporary artist, who stores organic materials such as fruit, flowers and other libations in this gleaming blue space. Various other auditory elements are integrated into the video installation through Dineo Seshee Bopape’s rhythmic drumming on the water and her voice, where she can be heard singing in her native language, sePedi. Everything in this artistic representation has been designed to offer each individual a unique sensory and emotional experience.
The work was inspired by the deeply moving story of an African-American man known only as Peter, who escaped American slavery in the 18th century and whose story continues to be told. Dineo Seshee Bopape explains that: “This work pays homage to the ocean as the host of memories: of Peter and the 12 million others who crossed the Atlantic, of those who survived and those who fled into the waters, escaping slavery, seeking sanctuary in the middle of the water“.
Initially commissioned by TBA21-Academy and co-produced with Pirelli HangarBicocca, this site-specific multimedia installation will be expanded at MoMA to include additional works of art made from clay and earth. These new creations, integrated into the exhibition, are the result of a collaboration between the artist and the descendants of the enslaved people who worked and lived on the Menokin plantation in Virginia. This integration enhances the symbolism of the video installation “Lerato laka le a phela le a phela le a phela/My love is alive, is alive, is alive (2022)“.
The work will be projected onto a limestone surface surrounded by an earthen wash on the gallery walls. The unusual combination of these materials allows Dineo Seshee Bopape‘s multimedia creation to be assigned numerous temporal, geological, historical and personal dimensions, and also to be configured in the present. As she puts it: “It’s a spiritual and political rebellion to remember, not to forget what we’re asked to forget“. For the contemporary artist, this relationship with the physical world encourages an exploration of collective memory.
The exhibition “Projects: Dineo Seshee Bopape“, organized by Martha Joseph, Associate Curator of Media and Performance, is a unique opportunity for visitors to discover the stimulating and captivating aesthetics of Dineo Seshee Bopape‘s work. A contemporary African artist whose artistic innovations capture the public’s attention and invite them to reflect on important issues such as identity, politics and nature.