Exhibition at Gropius Bau on view until 13 August 2023

The Gropius Bau is delighted to present Indigo Waves and Other Stories: Re-Navigating the Afrasian Sea and Notions of Diaspora. The multi-chapter exhibition brings together works by contemporary artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers and researchers. Combining new commissions with existing projects, the exhibition traces links between the Asian and African regions, manifesting overlays and diasporic transfers between two areas of increased global political, economic and cultural importance in the 21st century.

The Indian Ocean emerges as a communal horizon that reveals shades of cultural, linguistic, political and historical passage from ancient times to the present.

Indigo Waves and Other Stories: Re-Navigating the Afrasian Sea and Notions of Diaspora is an effort to unpack and shed light on a long and continual history of water-based exchanges that have generated cultural and social affinities between the African and Asian continents. The exhibition parts, showing concurrently at the Gropius Bau and SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin, have been composed in resonance. While moving between these venues, visitors can experience fluid associations that open up like the tug and swell of tides. The exhibition follows the first chapter at Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, revealing a journey of material, textual and aural histories and connecting them via this ocean to the city of Berlin.

Indigo Waves and Other Stories: Re-Navigating the Afrasian Sea and Notions of Diaspora will be accompanied by a public programme across the two exhibition venues in Berlin. It includes new and commissioned works by international and Berlin-based artists, including Shiraz Bayjoo, M’barek Bouhchichi, Nikhil Chopra, Köken Ergun, Adama Delphine Fawundu, Clara Jo, Jasmine Nilani Joseph, Jeewi Lee, Sim Chi Yin and Jennifer Tee.

“Different waves of migration have shaped Germany and Berlin is one of the epicentres of African and Asian diasporas. With Indigo Waves and Other Stories: Re-Navigating the Afrasian Sea and Notions of Diaspora we intend to awaken or reactivate the memories of these histories. As a pluriversal city, Berlin must afford itself the luxury of encountering its multiple histories, which are reverberations of narratives told and lived across the Indian Ocean, and stories that, from the land-locked space of Berlin, through the African- and Asian-diasporic communities, also echo on, in and through the Afrasian Sea.”

Natasha Ginwala and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, curators of the exhibition

The ocean that stretches between Asia, Oceania and Africa—from Africa’s Swahili coast, through the Arabian Peninsula, up to Western Oceania – is known by many names: Ziwa Kuu, the Swahili Sea, the Afrasian Sea, the Indian Ocean, Ratnakara, Eastern Ocean, Indic Ocean and Bahari Hindi. This body of water has been continuously marked by hybridity, displacement and diasporic passage. The exhibition takes us from ancient routes of transregional exploration, trade and seasonal migration, up through contemporary Afro-Asian geopolitical, economic and cultural exchanges, from languages, foods, sounds, winds, waters, economies, philosophies and more. Indigo Waves and other Stories: Re-Navigating the Afrasian Sea and Notions of Diaspora brings together artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers and thinkers working in a variety of media. These include book arts (Jack Beng-Thi), poetry (Tishani Doshi, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Haji Gora Haji, Abdourahman A. Waberi), VR installation (Sim Chi Yin), animation film (Köken Ergun and Fetra Danu), music (Dhow Countries Music Academy) mixed-media installation (Shiraz Bayjoo, Adama Delphine Fawundu), sculptural installations (Rossella Biscotti, Jeewi Lee), painting (Oscar Murillo), performance (Nikhil Chopra), printmaking (Malala Andrialavidrazana), sculpture (Kelani Abass, M’barek Bouhchichi), textile painting (Lavanya Mani), mixed media sound installation (Kudzanai-Violet Hwami and Belinda Zhawi), printing and installation (Jennifer Tee), drawing (Jasmine Nilani Joseph), research (John Njenga Karugia), photography (Adama Delphine Fawundu, Dominic Sansoni) as well as film and video (Clara Jo). The exhibition lends research on such timely subjects as the economics of materials and commodities, labour practices and indentured labour, the history and architecture of epidemics and quarantine, climate and ecological disruptions, cultural and material syncretism, migratory, trade and economic routes, and the interdependence of human and non-human entities.

As we transmit the knowledge that is harboured within many of us as water beings, Indigo Waves and Other Stories: Re-Navigating the Afrasian Sea and Notions of Diaspora seeks to set up reciprocal motions that unsettle established geopolitical assessments and the dominance in academia around the North Atlantic. Instead, we attend to open tides of acculturation, Afrasian imaginaries, an atmosphere of multiple tongues and monsoon cycles of the Indian Ocean system.

The second part of the exhibition will be on view at SAVVY Contemporary and run from 21 April to 4 June 2023. The Gropius Bau celebrates the opening of Indigo Waves and Other Stories: Re-Navigating the Afrasian Sea and Notions of Diaspora on 5 April 2023 from 19:00 with free admission to the exhibition and a DJ set by somali vendetta at restaurant Beba. The public programme of the exhibition will begin with the performance One Water, Many Lands by Nikhil Chopra on 5 April from 10:00 to 20:00 and 6 April from 12:00 to 18:00. Indigo Waves and Other Stories: Re-Navigating the Afrasian Sea and Notions of Diaspora is curated by Natasha Ginwala and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung with Michelangelo Corsaro. It is organised in partnership with SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin; Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town; VASL Artists’ Association, Karachi; and BLAK C.O.R.E. (Care of Radical Energy) at the University of Melbourne.