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A PLACE CALLED HOME (article first published : 2004-06-7)

An exhibition titled A Place Called Home - Art of the South Asian Diaspora curated by Zayd Minty opens at the NSA Gallery on June 15 at 18h00.

This is a contemporary art show with artists from the South Asian Diaspora curated by Zayd Minty. It is an exhibition of photographic, print, video, web based and installation works by artists of “Indian”/South Asian descent from all around the world. It is bound to have resonance in South Africa where over a million people originally hail from the Indian subcontinent.

The “South Asian Diaspora” of today received its greatest growth from the mid 1800s when large groupings of Indians began moving to countries such as Fiji, South Africa, Trinidad, Surinam, and a host of other places around the globe. First through the indentured labour system, to provide cheap labour in sugar fields, and later as traders. The most recent waves of immigration were in the 1960s and 70s to the UK and more recently to the US (largely to work in the IT industries).

Bollywood and a renewed interest in Indian inspired style, should not detract from the commentary that many artists of “Indian” descent - third or fourth generation South Africans, British or Caribbean – have produced in the process of making “home” in the place of their birth or by adopting as “home” the place they have chosen to move to.

A Place Called Home includes a number of important local and international artists, amongst them Sunil Gupta (India/Thailand/Canada/UK), an artist who uses in his evocative photographs his own history as a gay, HIV person who has lived in three continents; Chila Burman (UK) who was active in the Black British arts movement of the ‘80s and the renown collective Moti Roti (Trinidad/Pakistand/UK) whose dynamic and visually lush projects, inspired by carnival traditions, engage subtly in tranformative social commentary.

The project also includes key South African artists such as the renowned Omar Badsha who rose to prominence as a lyrical documentary photographer during Apartheid days. Badsha, together with younger up-and-coming artists, such as the award-wining Usha Seejarim, Durban based Faiza Galdhari and Zen Marie were commissioned to produce new work for this show.

Zayd Minty is a cultural producer and organiser, who was born and educated in Durban but has worked in Cape Town since 1991, particularly around issues of culture and transformation. He was previously artistic director of the Cape Town Festival (2002) and is presently deputy director of the District Six Museum. He has co-curated two important shows, notably Isintu (1998) at the SA National Gallery and Returning the Gaze (2000) a public art project. Both projects dealt with questions around race and identity. He is a fourth generation South African of Gujerati/Indian descent.

A Place Called Home was chosen by a jury of the NSA Gallery as a project of national significance through a National Lotteries grant. It has received the support of The National Arts Council, The Arts and Culture Trust of the President (ACT), The BAT Trust, the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and The British Council. The exhibition will be working in association with the 25th Durban International Film Festival, which will screen a number of relevant films.

An educational programme is attached to the project including engagements with schools as well as a set of discussion forums about issues affecting “Indian” descent people in contemporary South Africa.

The exhibition closes on July 11.




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