The Soul Expanding Ocean #3: Dineo Seshee Bopape
lerato laka le a phela le a phela le a phela / my love is alive, is alive, is alive
April 9 – October 2, 2022
Ocean Space, Venice

Exhibition view of “The Soul Expanding Ocean #3: Dineo Seshee Bopape”, Ocean Space, Venice, 2022. Commissioned and produced by TBA21–Academy. Photo: Matteo De Fina.
The Soul Expanding Ocean #3: Dineo Seshee Bopape. Graphic design by Studio Ana Domínguez.
Dineo Seshee Bopape: Film still (2021-22)

Exhibition view of “The Soul Expanding Ocean #3: Dineo Seshee Bopape”, Ocean Space, Venice, 2022. Commissioned and produced by TBA21–Academy. Photo: Matteo De Fina.
Dineo Seshee Bopape: Film still (2021-22)


TBA21–Academy presents a solo exhibition dedicated to the artist Dineo Seshee Bopape at Ocean Space. The exhibition is part of a two-year curatorial cycle entitled The Soul Expanding Ocean by Ocean Space’s 2021 and 2022 curator Chus Martínez.

Dineo Seshee Bopape’s work begins with a journey to the Solomon Islands, and from there she moves on to plantations on the Mississippi, to Jamaica, and then back home to South Africa. Travel becomes a language that allows us to imagine a reversal of the wrongdoings of colonialism. Bopape’s approach merges historical inquiry, traditional wisdom, a sense of illusion, imagination and hope in order to stage the ‘post-colonial’ agency of the Ocean as a timeless being. 

The commission is a further step in her practice towards the marriage of the Earth and the memory of the Ocean. The rocks Bopape uses in her practice teach us to understand how ancient, mythical times are not of the past, because oppression and colonialism still exist, and destruction and the exploitation of resources still continue today. The semiotics of the slave ship embedded in the Ocean are conceived as an opening through a complex juxtaposition of artistic materials and language, an opportunity to enchant and unravel contemporary everyday life and aid towards its transformation. The spirits and energy that drive our actions and connect us with the environment around us – is a central theme in Bopape’s video and augmented reality works, activating a multifarious presence.

Bopape was part of the second voyage to the Solomon Islands organized by TBA21–Academy with the exhibition curator and Leader of The Current II fellowship program, Chus Martínez. Bopape’s experience of the Ocean in the Solomon Islands opened immersive ways to form connections between this new sensorial experience, the ancestors,  slavery routes, and a practice capable of touching the audience the same way the spirits of the Ocean touched her. The commission is also informed by a research residency at Alligator Head Foundation, a Jamaican-based marine conservation foundation initiated by TBA21–Academy; managing the East Portland Fish Sanctuary and focusing on the intersection of science, art and community.

‘Imagine a seascape of heavy rain, in the Solomon Islands. You were out swimming and all of a sudden you are showered in raindrops falling down, so dense, so powerful as you never experienced before. You go a little bit under the water to seek shelter. Funny, who would have told you that you could submerge in water to have a roof…! With your nose afloat, your eyes witness the millions of drops creating a pattern on the surface of the Ocean. Those patterns are beautiful and yet, you suddenly recall them as marks on the skin left by wounds. Millions of lives have been scarred, touched by weapons, have experienced unthinkable pain, have been thrown into the Ocean and died.’ - Chus Martínez 
The Soul Expanding Ocean #3: Dineo Seshee Bopape
"lerato laka le a phela le a phela / my love is alive, is alive, is alive" (2022) and "Ditšhegofatšo / timeless monuments" (2022)

Curated by Chus Martínez
April 9 - October 2, 2022
Commissioned and produced by TBA21–Academy, partly as the result of a TBA21–Academy Residency at Alligator Head Foundation, Jamaica, in 2021.
The work lerato laka le a phela le a phela le a phela / my love is alive, is alive, is alive, 2022 has been co-produced with Pirelli HangarBicocca. The work Ditšhegofatšo / timeless monuments, 2022 has been co-produced with Aorist.
Chus Martínez is head of the Art Institute at the FHNW Academy of Arts and Design in Basel, and in 2021-22, the Curator of Ocean Space, Venice, TBA21–Academy’s center for catalyzing ocean literacy, research, and advocacy through the arts. Previously, she led The Current II (2018–20), a project initiated by TBA21–Academy. The Current is the inspiration behind Art is Ocean, a series of seminars and conferences held at the Art Institute which examines the role of artists in the conception of a new experience of nature.
Dineo Seshee Bopape was born in 1981 CE (Gregorian calendar), 1974 in the Ethiopian calendar, the year of the golden rooster, on a Sunday. If she were Ghanaian, her name would be akosua/akos for short. During the same year of her birth, there were perhaps 22 recorded Atlantic Ocean hurricanes and 4 Indian Ocean cyclones close to Mozambique. Umkhonto We Sizwe performs numerous underground assaults against the apartheid state. Zaire is the premier producer of the world’s cobalt; In Chile, the Water Code is established, separating water ownership from land ownership; an International NGO Conference on Indigenous Populations and the Land is held in Geneva; Bob Marley dies; an annular solar eclipse is visible in the Pacific Ocean; USA and Japan are in the leading position in the seabed-mining industry, Thomas Sankara rides a bike to his first cabinet meeting; the Slave trade is officialy abolished in Mauritania; Machu Picchu is declared a heritage site; New Zealand recognised 16 rivers and lakes as “Outstanding” and protected them in perpetuity. Hurricane Katrina brings floods to the Caribbean. A Haiti-US Agreement allows the US Coast Guard to patrol the sea corridor between Haiti and Cuba. It is said that right whales born in that year are taller than right whales born since. Her paternal grandmother dies affected by dementia; Other concurrent events of the year of her birth, and of her lifetime, are perhaps too many to fully know; some things continued, some shifted, others ended, some began, some transformed. The world’s human population was then apparently at around 4.529 billion. Today she is one amongst 7 billion - occupying multiple adjectives.
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