Umseme Uyakhuluma: A celestial conversation” is a collaborative experimental body of work that aims to explore the power of the connectivity and duality that exists in different realms of existence and their subjective realities. The project goes deeper into the idea of communication and what that means for physical and non-physical spaces. “Umseme Uyakhuluma” directly translated is “The Straw mat Speaks”. It speaks to one of Africa’s most ancient ways of recording information using grass, which is an endlessly renewable source of material under historic land usage conditions. The project further looks at the reinterpretation of Bantu symbol writing, which is a form of ideography, that has evolved into a form of steganography. It was a form of coded language used in various parts of the continent to communicate sacred messages.
This type of communication is preserved today in the Ndebele tribe, amongst others in Africa, called “Umgwalo”.The project parallels this with the historical significance of the use of cowry shells on the continent, honouring their divine importance in African Spiritualism and treating them as the messengers of the non-physical space explored in the project.
The project aims to use “Umseme Uyakhuluma” as a metaphor for communication and urges the viewer to go deeper into understanding what communication has been, what it is as we understand it today and what it will become. This is done through the spiritual use of the cowry shells and “umgwalo”; and how they manifest themselves in the different realms of existence both seen and unseen, to further explore previously ignored forms of communication. Lastly, the project acts as a modern-day letter between African Artists that is recorded using digital mediums, but further transcends this space and time, just like the cowry shells and “umgwalo”.
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