Notes From An Ocean

By Richard Kilpert

“Indigo Waves and Other Stories .  Re-Navigating the Afrasian Sea and Notions of Diaspora”

On at Zeitz MOCAA until January 2023

Thania Teabags

I could smell this exhibition even before it opened. Thania Petersen was installing 1000s of teabags on a wall and the aroma of Indian Ocean tea leaves plantations filled the building.

Two years in the making, this is the first of two large‐scale diasporic exhibitions which break from the monographs which have dominated the gallery since Kentridge in 2019.  Curated by the MOCAA’s assistant curator Thato Mogotsi and renowned art historians and curators Natasha Ginwala and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, with Michelangelo Corsaro., this fills the galleries which held Alfredo Jaar’s Rwanda Project.

Maps, sounds, tapestries, videos and large-scale installations fill the space which has been placed to take the visitor on a sweeping journey through the histories of the sea with many names – the Indian Ocean.  It is a monument to the people who were moved between the continent and the eastern islands, and celebrates the cultures that have established themselves in spite of the turbulent past.

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

Once again the museum has pulled out all the stops to bring top-tier artists from far-flung places together for us to wonder at and learn from their practise.  From Reunion, the shaman – like figure of Hasawa spent a month carving the roots of a washed – up tree in a workshop space at the Waterfront.  He then spent time taking school children around the show to explain the ritualistic marks and placement of the sculptures.

Columbian Oscar Murillo’s acclaimed work  “surge” has piles of earth with pots singing in front of large paintings which quote Monet’s “Waterlillies” fills one of the gallery spaces.  This exhibition claims to Investigate, unpack and shed light on some of the historical, cultural and linguistic links between the continents of Africa and Asia. 

“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.”

Malala Andrialavidrazana

If you are keen to take a break from the winter weather, go and bask in the large scale tropical experience on Level 2.  A feast for the senses.               


Find the audioguides here (Tip: take earphones with you to the museum)