Dineo Seshee Bopape’s charged, poetic installations often combine video, sound, ceramic, found objects, and other substances both organic and inorganic. In her first US museum exhibition, Bopape will create a new site-specific installation comprised of dense accumulations of soil and clay sourced from multiple sites across the Americas and Africa that mark historic rebellions by enslaved peoples.
This new commission continues Bopape’s research into ideas of sovereignty and self-possession through soil and clay sourced from the sites of various slave rebellions. Bopape reconstitutes earth’s matter in all of its changing and evolving states, from solid earth to soil to clay to dust, into new artistic form. The installation incorporates material from sites including New York City, which was a major hub for the transatlantic slave trade in the eighteenth century and the site of a famous 1712 slave revolt near present day Canal Street; Montreal, Canada, where in 1734 Portuguese-born slave Marie-Joseph Angelique set fire to her owner’s home resulting in a massive fire that burned down much of what is now Old Montreal; and N’Der, Senegal, where in 1819 the women of the Walo tribe, knowing an incoming invasion from the Moors would result in their capture and enslavement, chose to die together by mass suicide, gathering in a home with their children and setting it on fire. Bopape’s work at MoMA PS1 underscores how an individual remembering and honoring their personal sovereignty amounts to a potent act of rebellion.
The exhibition is organized by Jocelyn Miller, Assistant Curator, MoMA PS1.