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25 Years

Imagining an Indian Ocean Aesthetic

Fri, 04/12/2019 - 12:00pm
Event Location: 
537 Heller Hall

Kristy Stone, University of the Western Cape 

I begin with the biographies of two objects from prominent museum and archive collections in South Africa. Both of these objects are connected to particular healing practices and concepts of being that far exceed their persistent colonial classifications. 

The first object is an entada rheedii Indian Ocean sea bean classified as a ‘charm’ in the Iziko Social History archives in Cape Town. The sea bean’s inherent propensity for travel and its use in dream work troubles notions of indigeneity and raises questions of plant agency. 


The second object is an azemat or talisman containing alchemical word formulations written for healing or protective purposes. It is the words themselves that are the healing agents, they are not simply representations. The particular azemat I am working with was used as evidence in the trial of runaway slaves in the Cape.


Acknowledging the limits of evidence-based research, I use art-making as a method of exploration. With examples from a recent collaborative performance with musicians and artists, I sketch out my explorations of an Indian Ocean aesthetic.