Shiraz Bayjoo's Ile de France installation opens at Sharjah Biennale on March 7th, 2019

Curated by Zoe Butt as part of the Journey Beyond the Arrow Exhibition
Shiraz Bayjoo is  showing an installation of film, scupture and paintings and photography drawn from his Ile de France works.  At the heart of the exhibiton is the screening of  Ile de France a 16mm HD Film, 201531mins 18secs  
Emily Butler writes:
Ile de France (2015) is a non-narrative film focusing on Mauritius' landscape, architecture and the details of objects tracing its colonial history and multicultural social fabric.  Using a painterly approach to the moving image, Shiraz Bayjoo (b. Mauritius 1980) invites us on a lyrical journey through the island, using tracking shots of details of the rugged coastal landscape and jungle encountered by seventeenth century Dutch colonisers, of the French graffiti on early settlements, of the objects of prayer in a traditional Muslim merchant timber house, of footage of independence celebrations from Britain in 1968 playing on a domestic TV set, and of the missing key of an ancient piano in a former sugar baron's mansion. Whilst the film is absent of protagonists, Bayjoo skilfully conveys the island's complex social history. The film catches a soft light outlining the place of structures and objects in contemporary Mauritian life.  Alongside the film, a series of postcards drawn from Ile Maurice (2009) and Extraordinary Quarantine (2014) a seres of Ile de France prints capture everyday scenes, whose simple framing reveal new details and insights at each viewing.  Ile de France offers a tapestry of histories that unfold like the roots of the banyan tree that permeates the island. A polyphony of sounds, narratives, languages and songs weave through the visual footage. The soundtrack also captures the roar of the ocean as a reminder of its indomitable presence throughout history. Bayjoo's work often focuses on representation, on material objects as conveyors of personal stories to counter official histories. Working across different media, he brings moving image work together with objects and documents to offer a physical and intimate space of encounter. Ile de France (Isle of France) is titled after Mauritius' name under French rule (1710-1810), a loaded term marking out its role as a microcosm of France to contribute to the trade and industry of its Empire.  Islands are also the locations where utopian desires can be projected: the setting for the Enlightenment era novel Paul et Virginie (1788) by Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, or the location of anarchist societies of pirate or 'maroon' escaped slaves. Yet the film also reminds us of the darker side of imperial rule including passages from Saint-Pierre's diary outlining violence and slavery.  By looking at colonial histories and their legacies in the Indian Ocean, Bayjoo examines the deeper roots of globalisation. In a time when the adage 'no man is an island, entire of itself' is as prescient as ever, Bayjoo's work highlights the complexity of the creolisation of people, languages and environments.

“Journey Beyond the Arrow” offers deeper context to the movement of humanity and the tools that have enabled or hindered its survival. From spiritual ritual to cultural custom, technological process to rule of law, all such practices employ objects and actions that continually move in voluntary and involuntary patterns of discovery, conquest, witness and exile across land and sea. However, the human journey surround- ing the movement of these tools—its cause and effects, its feedback, its ‘echo’—clam- ors for collective sense amidst textbooks of little historical truth, online archives that are questionably fabricated and governmentally surveilled, and bureaucracies of academic systems of research and rigor that struggle to keep up with the pace of change in their assumed ‘D’isciplines.

In this exhibition, artists reveal the intergenerational impact of a range of physical and psychological ‘tools’, of how the representations and meanings of these tools have shifted as a consequence of colonial exploitation, social and religious conflict or ideological extremism. With their own distinctive approaches, the artists assembled here investigate the historical context of the “bow”, which reveals the “arrow” of humanity’s echo—an echo of the diversity of all our activity in relation to language, memory, belief, ritual, and cultural and social practice. The artists’ imaginative retelling of our planet opens us up to what has been overlooked or lost in the echo chamber—a chamber that is economically intertwined yet governmentally divided, often culturally stymied by tradition and insidiously controlled by authoritarianism, a chamber that betrays us when we blindly participate in its algorithmic realm, which pursues quantity instead of meaning. “Journey Beyond the Arrow” seeks to illuminate the necessity of exchange and diversity across the globe and throughout human history.

Participating artists: 31st Century Museum of Contemporary Spirit, Khadim Ali, Antariksa, Shiraz Bayjoo, Adriana Bustos, Kawayan de Guia, Rohini Devasher, Léuli Eshrāghi, Gudskul, Anawana Haloba, Ho Tzu Nyen, Roslish- am Ismail (Ise), Meiro Koizumi, Jompet Kuswidananto, Lee Mingwei, Nalini Malani, Neo Muyanga, Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn, Ahmad Fuad Osman, Phan Thảo Nguyên, Qiu Zhijie, Lisa Reiha- na, Mark Salvatus, Ampannee Satoh, T. Shanaathanan, Kidlat Tahimik, Lantian Xie, Xu Zhen

Sharjah Biennial 14
7 March – 10 June 2019

Free and open to the public

February 28, 2019