Oceanic Humanities for the Global South PhD Fellow Meghan Judge curated Hetsika: Virtual Winds, a virtual residency which connected artists in Antananarivo, Madagascar with artists in Cape Town, South Africa. Hosted on Instagram, this online residency became a shared studio space for experimental conversations wherein the artists could learn about each other’s work, despite restrictions around language and physical distance. To aid this process, the theme Meta Imaginings: Trade As Self Expression, encouraged artists in a playful way to learn about each other through their initial visual ‘offerings’ (artworks) into the shared studio. However, they were then expected to add to each other’s images with their own mark, compounding on to them in a similar way to how one might see several versions of the same thing in a public market; knock offs, bartering, alternatives and surprising new additions were the name of the game. Interesting strings of visual, sonic and textual conversations began to emerge over the course of the residency, including playful drawings that became animations, personal narratives that brought in melancholic emotions, experimental film that explored intergalactic worlds and a realization that there was a general fandom for techno music amongst the artists. All together the virtual space became filled with visual chatter, imagination and possibilities for knowing more about one another.
Trade as a theme is also a nod toward the once flourishing Indian Ocean trade route that brought many different people together, the effects of which can still be seen in cultural practices across the region today. Participating artists in the residency were Mat Li and Toky from Madagascar as well as Ello X-Ray Eyez and Breezy from Cape Town. Overall, the annual Hetsika: Virtual Winds residency acts to connect artists within the Indian Ocean and the continents that touch it via Madagascar. The residency is the manifestation of a collaboration between the Africa|Nosy Art Echange and Is’Art Galerie and is supported by Pro Helvetia mobility funding.