On Thursday 29 June the Tiwani Contemporary presented for the first time in UK
The Slave Ship (2015), a video installation by the British-Ethiopian artist Theo Eshetu.
The title references Turner’s painting Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying – Typhoon Coming On (also known as The Slave Ship).
Eshetu is known for his groundbreaking work in film and video and his ability to develop the moving image and his anthropological ideas as tools to examine the notion of culture itself.
The Slave Ship attained in UK for the first time after recent exhibitions at The Studio Museum in Harlem (2016) and Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2016). After the incredible success of his previous exhibition Brave New World at The Museum of African Art, and the multiscreen video installation Th Return of the Axum, which dealt with colonialism and ownership, the artist keeps exploring time, movement and light while
evoking the history of slavery through its oceanic epic.
The exhibition traps the audience into a powerful multimedia installation composed by a window that gives onto a pitch-black space and a shiny orb shimmers that projected moving images of abyssal waters and enigmatic landscapes, Italian monuments and oil tankers, through a spectacular kaleidoscope effect. The work plays with perception and mirrors, a powerful soundtrack and images, leading the audience through a journey into the deepest abyss and the contemporary landscape.
While referencing the complex reality of migration, identity and wilderness the view from the window evokes telescopic visions, the specular reflections of still waters and the roundness of the Earth.
Eshetu borrows from legends, like the phantom vessel Flying Dutchman and the underwater city founded by drowned African slaves, Drexciya, to explore the concepts of memory and responsibility, the metaphors of the ghosts of the victims who keep coming back to claim justice and recognition. The footage for the video was shot in Hamburg, Germany, the iconic location where the Swedish Africa Company traded in slaves, gold, ivory and sugar from São Tomé from 1649. The artist employs the metaphor of the oceans as a tool and a visual and sensual medium to examine the legacy of
the historic slave trade from South to North, and creates connections among ecology, natural space, slavery, history, migration and human displacement.
The Slave Ship will be on at Tiwani Contemporary from 30th June to 12th August 2017.
For more info please visit the
Where: Tiwani Contemporary (16 Little Portland Street, W1W 8BP)