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Akoi-Jackson has used borrowed and bought fabrics for the show.
Akoi-Jackson has used borrowed and bought fabrics for the show.

From Africa, with love

What it means to be an African living in India, and the legacy of the non-aligned movement

All through August, a group of artists, photographers, dramatists, poets and anthropologists have been working at Khoj studios on interpretations of one theme: relations between African countries and India. The resulting artworks will be shown this weekend in an exhibition titled Coriolis Effect: Currents Across India And Africa.

Here’s what to expect at the show:

What: Coming at the end of a month-long residency of 11 artists of Indian and African origins, Coriolis Effect looks at historical as well as modern ties between African countries like Ethiopia, South Africa and Ghana and India.

The artists have used mediums like photography, installation art, music, poetry and video to talk about issues such as mixed-race marriages in the 21st century and the experiences of people—those of Indian origin living on the African continent and those of African origin living in India.

Curator Sitara Chowfla says: “In our framing of the project, there were three flare-up moments (of shared history and cultural exchange). The beginning was the migration of people from Africa to India and from India to Africa. The second was the non-aligned movement (NAM)—the former colony states had similar hopes about their post-colonial future and that sense of hopefulness is captured in the music, photographs and architecture of the 1960s and 1970s. The third is the contemporary moment of migration; the students who come (from African nations) to India, and the refugees who are just waiting till they are assigned their next home."

Why now: “The conversations and ideas for this residency started to develop last year," says Chowfla. “Racial discrimination, and Khirki, were very much in the news then (in January 2014, then Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti led a raid into the homes of Ugandan nationals living in Khirki village). We organized a research residency at Khoj in which we realized that a lot of work was already being done (by anthropologists, musicians and artists) around cultural exchanges and migration between Africa and India," she adds. Khoj then asked interested artists to send in ideas, and 11 were chosen for the residency.

What to expect: Several works in the show revisit historical moments and connect them intelligently with modern-day living. Like Ghana-based artist Bernard Akoi-Jackson, whose experiments with flags, fabric and performance reference NAM in a poetic rather than literal sense. “There was such close friendship between (Ghana’s first premier) Kwame Nkrumah and Jawaharlal Nehru. I want to look at what happened; what have we made of that history? With the rise of nationalism in India, what is the place of others (immigrants) in the country?" he says.

Expect to see a live performance and take part in an interactive recording session by Insurrections Ensemble, a collective of poets and musicians from India and South Africa.

Where: The show will open at Khoj studios in Khirki Extension—one of the more edgy and experimental art spaces in the Capital.

Coriolis Effect: Currents Across India And Africa will be held from 28-31 August, 11am-7pm, at Khoj International Artists’ Association, S-17, Khirki Extension.

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