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Dineo Seshee Bopape


Dineo Seshee Bopape is an artist who lives and works in Johannesburg. She is known for her use of soil and other organic material as a base for multisensory, multidimensional work that connects deeply with the earth. In addition to her packed earth installations, Seshee Bopape also works with drawing, video, and sound to create a rich practice connecting to memory, belonging, and place. 

Helsinki Biennial 2023 presented a continuation of Seshee Bopape’s use of earth as her material. Like her previous work, it continued invoking connections both to land and family, but now through a new departure – a sculptural form of a billboard made of rammed earth that is textured with organic material and rocks of various sizes.

The new work, I Re-member Mama, seeks to find a path to remembering and re-membering, through fragmented parts of personal and collective family histories. 

What began as a political enquiry soon led to a realisation of a spiritual quest and an ancestral longing. Working with soil and clay has offered the artist a way to remember her grandmother’s stories, expanding also to other grandmothers, as well as the waters and the earth itself, which feed, nurture, house and support us all. The work is a call for healing, drawing attention to the memory of the land, and the power of people’s reparative acts to protect natural environments and all that is sacred. 

Excerpt from a divination session 03/02/2023, 11 am – 12.15 pm

It’s like you were saying, two dimensions in one world. There is a process of ‘the return to mama’ where the lunar energies would stand outside. It’s actually three dimensions to me… the lunar moon, the crescent moon in one dimension, and the Earth in another. And then there’s the top one; the conscious or the manifested world.

The moon would be the super conscious, the elemental, and the six sides of a die are the conscious unfoldment of a process on a multi-dimensional level, where the lunar energies influence the earth. From this tent/ndumba, energies from that dimension are projected from the subconscious into the other state where they manifest as courage to go seek, to go seek. To take the trip to discover who and what the mother is –  her story. In that leap you are protected – you will be rewarded.

Many have made that trip, symbolized by the house with many rooms. It has brought justice, or it has highlighted inequalities. And it is also a three-dimensional process. It is not something that will cease to exist once you move through it, but instead represents the others who have made the trip before. Also because it’s not a full or a new moon, it’s a process that has yet to reach fullness. That is what it is for me… this return to mama. It’s a state that is taking place on multidimensional levels. It is guided by a very strong lunar force. And it is the path of courage and it’s a path that is open and eternal.

I hope that works, Grandmother, with your own intuitions. May there be light, Grandmother.

Dineo Seshee Bopape

Dineo Seshee Bopape: I Re-member Mama, 2023. © HAM/Helsinki Biennial/Sonja Hyytiäinen

Thanks to TBA21–Academy.

Seshee Bopape’s works have been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world. Some of her recent solo exhibitions include Born in the first light of the morning [moswara’marapo], Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy (2022); The Soul Expanding Ocean #3, Ocean Space, Venice, Italy (2022); Lerato le le golo (…la go hloka bo kantle), Secession Vienna, AT (2022); The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University (ICA at VCU), Richmond, Virginia, USA (2021); Sedibeng, it comes with the rain, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, UK (2019); When Spirituality was a Baby, Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland (2018; and Lerole: footnotes. (The struggle of memory against forgetting), Sfeir-Semler Gallery Hamburg, Germany (2018).

Some of her recent group exhibitions include venues and events such as Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany; National Museum of Cardiff, Wales; FRAC Poitou-Charentes, Anglouême, France; Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; SFMOMA, San Francisco, USA; Arsenale, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy; Ford Foundation Gallery, New York, USA; Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto, Canada; 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany; Sharjah Biennale 13: Tamawuj, Sharjah, UAE, to mention just a few.

She was the main prize winner of the Future Generation Art Prize 2017 awarded by PinchukArtCentre, the recipient of a 2010 Columbia University Toby Fund Award, and the winner of 2008 MTN New Contemporaries Award. She was awarded the Artes Mundi 9 Prize by National Museum Cardiff, Wales in 2019.

Dineo Seshee Bopape 

I Re-member Mama 



Production: Collaboratorio, Vihdin Betoni Oy 

Courtesy of the artist. Thanks to Markus Reymann and TBA21–Academy.