Manifesta purposely strives to keep its distance from what are often seen as the dominant centres of artistic production, instead seeking fresh and fertile terrain for the mapping of a new cultural topography.

Dineo Seshee Bopape, ZA

Dineo Seshee Bopape’s installations examine humanity’s complex relationship with the land, looking closely at racial capitalism, conquest, colonialism and their legacies as well as our metaphysical relationships to the earth – as elemental matter, as body and as a life resource.

She often works with found objects, plastic and natural substances, such as soil, clay and wood. Accompanied by the sounds of the wind, waves, animals, objects and human voices ‘instrumentalised’ to speak, sound and sing, Bopape’s animation Master Harmoniser (Ile aya, moya, la, ndokh) was drawn with clay found at various ports involved in the transatlantic slave trade.

It came about in response to a nineteenth-century photograph depicting the brutally lacerated back of a runaway slave, known alternately as Gordon or Peter. The images of his river- and mountain-like scarring were originally used to draw attention to the brutality of slavery and call for its abolition.

In her work, the artist retraces that violence while underscoring the resilience of survivors – the descendants of the enslaved – across time and terrain. She invites us to reflect on witnessing legacies of trauma, asking what the land remembers as well as what the waters want us to remember through time and why.