Thania Petersen
Video  | 12’ 10’’
Bag Factory, Johannesburg, South Africa

About the video:
“KASSARAM” interrogates the artistic strategies historically used by European colonial forces to demarcate oppressive hierarchies of people in South Africa. Named after the old Malay word kassaram which means a “big mess” or things being “out of place” or  ”upside down”, Thania Petersen’s work highlights how present-day imperialist agendas perpetuate these practices by continuing to impose contemporary “orientalist” views onto diverse communities worldwide. More...

About the artist:
Thania Petersen is a multi-disciplinary artist who uses photography, performance, and installation to address the intricacies and complexities of her identity in contemporary South Africa. Petersen’s reference points sit largely in Islam and in creating awareness about its religious, cultural, and traditional practices. She attempts to unpack contemporary trends of Islamophobia through her analysis of the continuing impact of colonialism, European and American imperialism, and the increasing influence of right-wing ideologies. Threads in her work include the history of colonialist imperialism in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, as well as the social and cultural impact of westernized consumer culture. Her work is also informed by her Cape Malay heritage and the practice of Sufi Islamic religious ceremonies. Petersen studied at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art in London. In 2018, Petersen held her solo exhibition "IQRA" at WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town. She has hosted additional solo exhibitions in 2016 at the AVA, Cape Town and in 2017 at the Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions both locally and abroad, including "Radical Love" at the Ford Foundation, New York (2019) and "Present Passing: South by Southeast" at the Osage Art Foundation, Hong Kong (2019). Petersen was awarded the Thami Mnyele Residency in Amsterdam in 2019.

Interview with the artist:
Where are you from and how did you become interested in moving image work?
I am from Cape Town. Moving images is impossible to ignore in our daily lives and has become a part of humanity's visual language. I do not think of moving images as something I am interested in but as something which is a part of our daily existence.

What inspired/influenced you to make the work?
The work is inspired by my community and my City. The film interrogates how Art has been used in all its forms, as a means to create and impose a cultural identity onto us and isolate us within our own landscape. It is a trajectory of stereotypes over time which eventually deteriorates into violence and chaos when we begin to internalise the lies we are fed about ourselves.

What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am working on a body of work including embroideries , photography and sculpture using the film as the basis of this body of work. It forms the foundation of everything which I am making at the moment. It's my process of figuring out the world around and inside me.