Lucelle. B. Pillay. Excentricities. 2023. Engraved, Laser-cut Acrylic, Wood, LED's (1.5x1m)
The artwork entitled, ‘'Excentricities’, applies the data set acquired from the Indian Indenture Ship Lists, within a radial map. It reflects the biographical data of the total number of men, women and children who were brought to the Port of Natal over a span of 51 years (1860-1911). The term, 'Excentric' was coined by the art historian and curator, Okwui Enwezor, who used it to describe artists who are peripheral to the European art centres. Enwezor, who curated the Johannesburg Biennale and the Documenta 11, was instrumental in bringing excluded artists from Africa and Asia within the global gaze. The work 'Excentricities' falls within Enwezor's paradigm of the marginalised 'other'. The stories and origins of the Indians who came as low-grade workers were discarded on the floors of dusty municipal buildings. The hand written ledgers of their names, was all that was left to connect later generations of Indians to their ancestors. It was the tireless effort of a few academics and researchers who found value in these deteriorating paper records, that have brought these identities to light. Using this data, the artist elevates the memory of each person by representing them as a dot of light. The medium of clear, light-transmitting acrylic acts like a screen with pixels and speaks to the digitising process of the paper lists. A lost history is given form and engages audiences in nuanced ways.