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Indian Ocean Current: Six Artistic Narratives

In the Daley Family and Monan Galleries
January 27–November 24, 2020

E-book | Catalogue | Press Release | Didactics | Boston Globe Review | Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Webinar: The Indian Ocean as One of the Great Frontiers in Oceanography | Virtual Walkthrough

Click thumbnails to view selected objects in exhibition
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Indian Ocean Current: Six Artistic Narratives features videos, collages, paintings, sculptures, interactive installations, and photographs by renowned artists Shiraz Bayjoo, Nicholas Hlobo, Shilpa Gupta, Wangechi Mutu, Penny Siopis, and Hajra Waheed—whose deep ties to the lands surrounding the Indian Ocean inform their work.

The exhibition explores the contemporary legacy of the long movement of people, things, and ideas across the Indian Ocean. The open and plural societies of the Indian Ocean world came under threat from the mid-twentieth century when decolonization created new nation-states that were divided, at times, by hastily erected borders. Today, these borders are losing their meanings as the Indian Ocean’s waters rise; global warming does not respect human-made divisions.

Indian Ocean Current probes complex and vexing questions, including: How do artists working in a variety of media make sense of the great mixing of peoples in the region’s past and present? How do they conceive of the water that linked distant shores? How do they address the borders that divide spaces that for so long were undivided? What do the rising ocean waters resulting from global warming portend for the future of the Indian Ocean and, most importantly, for its inhabitants? In the exhibition, artistic narratives are in conversation with the findings of scientists as animations, maps, films, and interviews illuminate the unusual geology of the Indian Ocean and the myriad, catastrophic effects of climate change in that region and across the globe.

The exhibition’s catalogue, edited by Prasannan Parthasarathi, with essays by experts in environmental studies, postcolonial studies, literature, and history, brings multiple lenses to bear on the work of the six artists and the complicated histories of the Indian Ocean world.

Included are over eighty works by Bayjoo, Hlobo, Gupta, Mutu, Siopis, and Waheed loaned by the artists, private collectors, Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, and Ed Cross Fine Art, Galleria Continua, Lehmann Maupin, and Stevenson Cape Town.

Organized by the McMullen Museum of Art, Indian Ocean Current: Six Artistic Narratives has been curated by Prasannan Parthasarathi and Salim Currimjee and underwritten by Boston College with major support from the Patrons of the McMullen Museum and Liliane and Christian Haub in honor of Marie-Liliane ’13, Maximilian ’14, and Constantin ’17 Haub.

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