The Sea(E)scapes DNA don’t (n)ever ask project began in 2015, motivated by the discovery of the wreck of the slave ship São José Paquete-d’África cast out the same year off the Cape, in Cape Town in South Africa. Euridice Zaituna Kala then begins to retrace the route taken by the ship: leaving Ilha de Mozambique, a historic crossroads in the Indian Ocean from where Portuguese and French administered their colonies, it disappeared in 1794 with more than 400 slaves on board. 210 children, women and men perish. Others were re-captured, and taken to the initial destination: São Luis do Maranhão in Brazil.
The story of this ship escape(s)d Mozambicans. Frustrated at only having access to archives delivered through the Portuguese prism alone, it became urgent for the artist to reinvest this story. Started in Lisbon, her research work took Kala to Ilha de Mozambique and then to Cape Town. This deployment in space became an act of resistance: by surveying a strip of this coastline, Euridice Zaituna Kala revived this hitherto anecdotal memory.
Without wanting to focus solely on a history of slavery, Sea(E)scapes also questions the mechanics of contemporary memory. The project raises the question of who gives us access to history and what it chooses to document. The artist does not seek here to propose a rewriting of history, but to embody it: Through this journey, I was going to become the archive. Research, documentary and performance merge in a single act. The result is images- objects (Polaroids), the sounds of the breaking of the waves, the screeching of the hull, objects on the ground, as so many ways to abound this sensitive archive. It mixes travel diaries and absent (hi)stories from the Indian Ocean. Kala, nourished by these hallow spaces, then imagines what the movement of these bodies could be like outside of a control of their destiny.
Developed over 7 years, it deploys its own language, today taking the form of an exhibition, Sea(E)scapes , which brings together the images of this trajectory: The Polaroids – trace and witness – are also the raw material the artist works with to exhaustion; images on glass, video, sculptures, and a sound composition on cassette in co-creation with Romain Mascagni.
The memory, interfacing with water as a material, develops the echoes on this soundtrack. It evokes the hypothesis of the memory of water, which would have the property of encoding and storing information in the structure of its molecules. Is it the DNA of forgotten sounds that reaches us by signals? Feet, legs, sex, belly, torso… form a body that has other stories. Euridice Zaituna Kala activates the polysemy of History with this sound script. Let’s listen to the objects, they could tell us something about what was and is now embodied in our imaginations.