Dineo Seshee Bopape: Ile aye, moya, là, ndokh…harmonic conversations…mm
Dineo Seshee Bopape (b. 1981, Polokwane, South Africa) presents a suite of new, ICA-commissioned work spanning video, sculpture, installation, and animation. Focusing on sites that were involved in the transatlantic slave trade, Bopape’s exhibition connects histories of slavery, trauma, and memory across four places chosen for their locations as former slave routes or ports of slavery-related commerce: Richmond, New Orleans, Senegal, and Ghana. Merging the artist’s interests in soil and architecture, the exhibition mines the natural and built environments in all four sites to explore the legacies of pain, spiritualism, resistance, and rebellion held within each.
Celebrated for her research-intensive explorations of place, history, and spirituality, Bopape—who co-represented South Africa at the 2019 Venice Biennale and has won the Future Generation Art Prize and the Sharjah Biennial Art prize, among other accolades—often roots her work in the material and metaphysical qualities of earthly elements like soil, clay, and dust. She continues this practice in Ile aye, moya, là, ndokh…harmonic conversations…mm, gathering clay and soil samples from the four sites and incorporating them into each of her new works. Harnessing raw material and video footage from each of these places, Bopape explores their parallel histories and the interconnectedness of land, water, and body as sites of both trauma and commemoration.
As part of the exhibition, the ICA and Bopape are partnering with the Menokin Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the historic Virginia plantation home of Declaration of Independence signer Francis Lightfoot Lee and sharing the stories of the site’s inhabitants, including those who were enslaved there. Descendants of enslaved laborers at Menokin are creating small sculptures from clay sourced from the property, which Bopape will arrange into a larger installation at the ICA.
Dineo Seshee Bopape: Ile aye, moya, là, ndokh…harmonic conversations…mm is curated by Amber Esseiva, Associate Curator at the ICA at VCU.