Searching for Libertalia
Launch event: 18 January 2019, 6pm - 9pm
Searching for Libertalia brings together new and existing works by artist Shiraz Bayjoo. Bayjoo's artworks draw on personal and public archives to address cultural memory, nationhood, and the challenges of establishing a collective identity within a globalised postcolonial context. Working across media Bayjoo's practice explores the legacy of colonialism across the Indian Ocean region and its complex histories of slavery, migrations and conquest.
The exhibition intertwines three historical narratives about the island of Madagascar – its history of piracy with the story of Captain Misson, slave trading by the French East India Company throughout the 17th to 19th century, and the Malagasy fight for independence from France's Vichy government during the Second World War. The interlinking between these distinct narratives reveals the repetitive nature of history. Searching for Libertalia also underlines liberation and anti-colonial movements in African post-colonies and their relation to contemporary questions of race and identity.
Searching for Libertalia spans from video to painting and photographs to archive materials bridging gaps between dominant narratives of colonisation and hidden histories. Visitors will experience artworks and archive materials displayed in luxuriant frames, magnificent wall cabinets, and an imposing wooden vitrine alluding to the influence of domestic, religious and institutional spaces in which the creation of historical narratives take place.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of events. These include a gallery tour led by the artist and curator, and an artist talk with guest speakers which will connect the artwork with the historical context of Madagascar, and more broadly the Indian Ocean region, and its contemporary legacies.