Desi in Durban: Indian-origin artists are claiming a space in South Africa’s art scene – Veda Vaidyanathan

(Veda Vaidyanathan is a researcher at the Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi, who works on Asia-Africa issues and is currently based in New York. This article first appeared in The Hindu on October 22, 2021)

  • Many facets of India’s layered and rich relationship with Africa are buried in the stories of the continent’s three-million-strong Indian diaspora. A consistent exchange of ideas and people has helped foster a deep-rooted sense of familiarity about India in most parts of the region. It’s true that this primarily stems from shared political histories and similar socio-cultural experiences, and is driven by diverse economic engagements, but at the heart of it is the human connection. While the lived experiences and collective contributions of the many waves of Indian migrants to various African countries have been studied and documented, the role played by artists and their art in creating a notion of shared ‘Indianness’, far away from India’s borders, remains relatively unexplored. Enter Youlendree ‘Len’ Appasamy, a South African Indian writer, collage artist and zine-maker who is part of the Kutti Collective, a grouping of LGBTQ+ multidisciplinary artists of South Asian descent, who are working towards increasing the representation of ‘desi’ South Africans in the country’s art world…

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