Event Details

Oct 1, 2022
11:00am - 4:00pm
Wing gallery

Artist Oupa Sibeko will perform Black is Blue in the exhibition gallery on September 29, 30, and October 1 from 11AM to 4PM. Museum visitors are invited to observe for as long as they wish. 

Black is Blue (2019–present) is an invitation for people of all ages to be immersed in a sensory exploration in a durational performance. Sibeko will lie on two deck-chairs facing down with four fish hooks attached to his back in the blue-lit gallery space, with the floor covered in sea salt. The work inspires people to embrace the myth of an inland sea as a way to rethink the urban space, who belongs in it and how they occupy it. Through a comical yet thought-provoking video of a man (Sibeko himself) fishing from a puddle on the streets of Johannesburg, Black is Blue calls on humanity to return to the sea to repair wounds and for spiritual grounding.

Black is Blue is concerned with the widespread practice of using seawater for healing and spiritual purposes. Deriving from Nguni and other traditions, this practice is linked to the "people of water," usually water-based diviners, for whom the sea is a realm of ancestors, a site for spiritual cleansing and grounding; the sea holds potential to heal and its curative powers live in the water. While in the past such practices occurred at the coast, with urbanization and industrialization, the practice has been adapted and now one can purchase bottles of seawater inland. The main purpose of this project is to describe and artistically explore beliefs and practices involving bottled seawater for spiritual, health and healing purposes.

Between Nothingness and Infinity is part of the 2022 Cornell Biennial Mellon Public Curatorial Expression Program and curated by Lauren Siegel (Africana Studies), Sarah Then Bergh (Africana Studies), Marie Lambert (Comparative Literature), and Romain Pasquer (Romance Studies, LGBT Studies). It was funded in part by the Cornell Mellon Collaborative Studies in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities.