Ayesha Hameed

Ayesha Hameed, Black Atlantis: Bodies and Storms, 2016. Lecture performance. Photo: Goldsmiths MFA Lecture Series

Ayesha Hameed, Black Atlantis: Jupiter, 2018. Lecture performance at Spike Island, Bristol. Photo: Steve Goodman (Audint)

Ayesha Hameed, Black Atlantis: The End of Eating Everything (with Tom Hirst), 2018. Sound performance at Konsthall C. Photo: Konsthall C

Ayesha Hameed, Black Atlantis: Bodies and Storms, 2016. Lecture performance. Photo: Goldsmiths MFA Lecture Series

Ayesha Hameed lives in London, UK. Since 2013, Hameed’s multi-chapter project 'Black Atlantis' has looked at the Black Atlantic and its afterlives in contemporary illegalised migration at sea, oceanic environments, outer space and through Afrofuturistic dancefloors and sound systems. Through videos, audio-essays and performance-lectures, she examines how to think through sound, image, water, violence and history as elements of an active archive; and travelling back in time as a historical method. Recent exhibitions include Gothenburg Biennial, Sweden (2019); Lubumbashi Biennale, Democratic Republic of Congo (2019); and Dakar Biennale, Senegal (2018). She is currently co-programme leader of the PhD in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths University of London.

Project Description

Ayesha Hameed presents I sing of the sea, I am mermaid of the trees (2021), a newly commissioned multichannel audio and textile installation at Lush Building. Hameed’s installation follows the laying down of the first undersea telegraphic cable between India and Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century, that was precipitated by the six week delay for Britain to get news of the outbreak of the Revolt of 1857. 

Her installation moves this history underwater, taking us to battles against the forces of the seafloor, through the fragile nervousness of cable signals, and to the forests in Sarawak from where gutta percha was extracted by indigenous peoples to insulate the thousands of miles of undersea cables. I sing of the sea considers how communication can act as a kind of violence, transmitted across the seafloor, consolidating Britain’s imperial control over India. If Imperial Britain was the mother country and its colonies its offspring, then the undersea cable was a kind of pathological, strangulating umbilical cord. This is a subaquatic story of those offspring.

Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial with support from Canada Council for the Arts and The High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom. Sound design with Will Saunders.