In April 2019 I attended a two week international residency workshop in Mauritius with 32 artists. The outcomes of this intensive was an exhibition held at l’Institut français de Maurice, Rose Hill, Mauritius, 19 April to 3 May, 2019. I also presented a paper titled Oceans Apart: Conflict and Reconciliation at the Edges of Empire for the conference held at Flic n Flac.
As the first family descendant to return to Mauritius in 140 years, I sought ways to respond to the lieux de memoire I encountered in this remote island’s geopolitical and emotional landscape that links me back to its colonising past. Oceans Apart is a site responsive work made from found bricks and clothes as a small temporal memorial in recognition of the fading presence and masked memories of Le Lavoir on the Rivière La Chaux once used by local washerwomen for the cleaning of uniforms and other outfits of French, then British soldiers. This work evoked an unexpected duality as it also reminded local people of the small religious shrines made from bricks and cloth at the entrance of local houses. In a country of diverse cultural and religious identities, these alternate interpretations eloquently illustrated the multiplicity of cross cultural understandings experienced during the transnational pARTage residency for Conflict Zones.