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USHA SEEJARIM (article first published : 2003-07-20)

Usha Seejarim will present an exhibition of work in the full space of the NSA Galleries, courtesy of a generous grant received by the institution from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. Seejarim has been invited to conceive an installation that will occupy the entire gallery and provide an overview of her work over the past three years. A component of the exhibition will also focus on new work that is site-specific and reference a local context.

In a country where forced removals and relocation have resulted in the birth of many new routes (and roots), many people have needed to travel daily from place of home to place of work. The artist herself travels a fixed route daily on the M1 South between her home in Lenasia and her workplace in Johannesburg. Providing a major source for her work is the awareness that this daily routine is a direct result of a specific past history, and also that new history is constructed daily as many commuters travel over the tarred surface of the road.

“Issues of transient spaces and time, involuntary journeys, personal journeys, and narrative as wells notions of home, context and displacement are concepts that I have been exploring,” says Usha Seejarim. “I am intrigued by the mundane-ness of daily travel and how this can be seen as a metaphor for life journeys. I am also fascinated by the movement of people from one place to another, and the visual shifts in environment.”

In a more recent work, Two Rooms and a Kitchen, ten sets of interviews with elderly citizens of Lenasia are configured in conversation. They speak about their heritage, marriage, travel, school, and apartheid from a South African Indian’s viewpoint and life in general.

Her concerns with routine and the pedestrian as powerful vehicles for spiritual transcendence and metaphor underlies work that is concerned with social comment. She works predominantly with video, installation, and photo based images.

Seejarim was born in 1974 in South Africa. She obtained a National Diploma, and then a B-Tech degree in Fine Arts from Technikon Witwatersrand. A nominee for the FNB VITA Art Prize in 2002 and the MTN New Contemporaries in 2001, she had one solo exhibition titled Long Distance in 1999 and has participated in various group exhibitions. She is currently completing a residency through the Ampersand Fellowship in New York and participated in the exhibition When Latitudes Become Forms at the Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis.

Usha Seejarim’s exhibition runs from July 29 at 18h00 to August 17 at noon.




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