A post by Peter Jordens.
Zaheena Rasheed of Al Jazeera reports from Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Kalapani, a video installation by artist Andrew Ananda Voogel who has Guyanese roots.
As my eyes adjusted to the dim light, I was transported from the Shilpakala Academy in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, to the edge of a vast and dark ocean, whose choppy waters appeared to stretch out into an endless and untraversable horizon. Disoriented, I felt unsure of the ground beneath my feet.
Kalapani or Black Waters, a video installation by Indo-Caribbean artist Andrew Ananda Voogel, whose ancestors were plucked from colonial India and shipped across the oceans to work as indentured labourers in Britain’s colonies in the Caribbean, evoked for me the loss and longing of exile ― a topic that has never been more urgent, living as we do in a world where more people are displaced due to conflict and persecution than any time since World War II.
“I wanted to reflect that journey into the unknown and the accompanying loss of sense of self and identity,” Voogel, whose work was on display at [the fourth edition of] the Dhaka Art Summit [February 2-10, 2018], told Al Jazeera. “This is a story that is ongoing.” That theme of dispossession [ran] through this year’s Dhaka Art Summit, the newest hub for contemporary art on the global circuit.
For the complete, original article, go to http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/finding-bearings-uncertain-times-art-180212114909757.html
Andrew Ananda Voogel, who was born (1983) and raised in Los Angeles, California, and now lives in Taipeh, Taiwan, is a descendent of the Jahajis of Guyana, a community whose ancestors were Indian indentured workers. In Kalapani: The Jahajis’ Middle Passage, he recalls that history of violent departure and exile in his installations. It references a traditional Hindu taboo on crossing the seas. The installation consists of a video displayed alongside the passage papers that record the arrival of the artist’s great grandparents, Sita and Bhoja, to Guyana as indentured laborers in the 19th century. These archival sources act as entry points to Voogel’s video―an abstract, dream-like vision of waves crashing on a coastline. Rendered soft and indistinct, the projected image slowly reveals itself once the viewers’ eyes adjust to the darkness around. The undulating movement of waves combines with the stillness and silence of the gallery space to create an intensely meditative, almost therapeutic atmosphere: a space to piece together fragmented memories of our own past as also a site to revisit the trauma of those who suddenly found themselves stranded on alien shores.
The additional description of Kalapani is sourced from earlier displays in other locations: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/kalapani-the-jahajis%E2%80%99-middle-passage/fwGHP6hywMzNOw (Fort Kochi, India, 2014) and http://teuru.org.nz/index.cfm/whats-on/calendar/andrew-ananda-voogel-kalapani-the-jahajis-middle-passage (Auckland, New Zealand, 2016).