The Museum of Modern Art has announced Projects: Dineo Seshee Bopape, the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in New York. It will be on view in the Museum’s street-level gallery from July 1 through October 9, 2023. The central work in this exhibition, the multichannel sound and video installation Lerato laka le a phela le a phela le a phela le a phela/My love is alive, is alive, is alive (2022) incorporates earth, rock, and water.
Born in 1981, Ghanaian artist Dineo Seshee Bopape lives in South Africa. Her work has been shown internationally in numerous solo exhibitions, most recently in 2022 at Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan; Ocean Space, Venice; and Secession, Vienna, and in 2021 at Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. In 2019, she co-represented South Africa at the Venice Biennial.
Bopape, known for combining video, sound, and organic materials in her usually site-specific installations, investigates how social, political, and spiritual histories of the African diaspora inhabit the physical land and waters. This site-responsive presentation, first commissioned by TBA21-Academy and co-produced with Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan, will be expanded at MoMA to include more clay and soil artworks. Projects: Dineo Seshee Bopape is organized by Martha Joseph, The Phyllis Ann and Walter Borten Assistant Curator of Media and Performance.
Bopape’s multimedia installation takes the spirits of the ocean as its starting point. Combining video recordings of the sea in Jamaica and the Pacific Ocean with audio recordings of coastal winds around Louisiana, Jamaica, South Africa, and West Africa, this work depicts the ocean from above and below as the artist submerges her hands and places organic matter such as fruit, flowers, and various libations in the water.
For Bopape, this connection to the physical world is an exploration of collective memory: “It’s a spiritual and a political rebellion to remember, to not forget what one is being asked to forget.” She explains, “This work pays homage to the ocean as a host of memories: of Peter and 12 million others who crossed the Atlantic, those who survived and those who fled in the waters escaping enslavement, seeking sanctuary amid the water.”