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Ayesha Hameed

Grant holder in Göteborg, June – July 2021 (Currently online residency). In collaboration with GIBCA

Syeda Ayesha Hameed. Born in Edmonton, Canada. Lives and works in, London UK.

During my residency, I will focus on the production of Trading Winds, a multichannel sound installation and series of textile panels. It references the twin city plans based on canal systems made for Gothenburg and Batavia (now Jakarta) and the 1852 hurricane that struck St. Barthélemy, Sweden’s only slave colony in the Caribbean. Trading Winds thinks about tunnels of wind through these two cities and the Caribbean island and their relationship to colonialism and slavery.

The textile panels refer to both St Barthélemy’s and Batavia/Jakarta’s colonial trading history. Goods being traded in Batavia included nutmeg, peppers, cloves, cinnamon, coffee, tea, cacao, tobacco, rubber, and sugar. The canals were not suitable for the conditions in the region: they constantly silted over and had to be dredged: an ecological manifestation of the colonial violence of imposing modular city planning. St. Barthélemy, a volcanic and arid island, could not support the conditions for a plantation system of slavery, so the Swedes established the island as a free trade zone for the purchase of slaves. This was an even more dire commodification of enslaved men and women. The textiles will bear traces of that history—from Jacques Gentes’ unsuccessful attempt to cultivate cacao in the 17th century; to the commercial production of salt, visualized here in the mangroves that were able to grow the saline swamps around the island and that mitigated the currents of the windy sea that buffeted the island; to the flamboyant, a tree indigenous to Madagascar but planted in tropical and subtropical regions all over the world and evoked here to consider flora disseminated through colonialism; and finally  to the barbary fig, which is reported to have been used as a cactus fence as a defense against rival colonizing countries from Europe, like Britain.

Ayesha Hameed lives in London, UK. Since 2014 Hameed’s multi-chapter project ‘Black Atlantis’ has looked at the Black Atlantic and its afterlives in contemporary illegalized migration at sea, in oceanic environments, through Afrofuturistic dancefloors and soundsystems and in outer space. Through videos, audio essays and performance lectures, she examines how to think through sound, image, water, violence and history as elements of an active archive; and time travel as an historical method.

Recent exhibitions include Liverpool Biennale (2021), Gothenburg Biennale (2019), Lubumbashi Biennale (2019) and Dakar Biennale (2018). She is co-editor of Futures and Fictions (Repeater 2017) and co-author of Visual Cultures as Time Travel (Sternberg/MIT 2021). She is currently Co-Programme Leader of the PhD in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths University of London.