Ashraya Naidoo

27 May 2020 | Text and photos Ashraya Naidoo.

This work, African Dancer, was created using ink, dye, pastel and charcoal. The figure is an image of an Indian dancer. This is a representation of how I have managed to keep in touch with my Indian culture, through a classical Indian dance called Bharatanatyam.

Africa is made up of a diversity of cultures and ethnic groups, which is portrayed in the fragmentation of the African Dancer. We might all look different and follow different religions, but we are still a part of Africa.

The photographs are a few images from a series called Transition. This series illustrates the emigration of a culture into a new land, but over time it manages to stay in touch with its roots. Back when Indians came to South Africa, as indentured labourers, the Indian culture was introduced to Africa. Over time the culture has evolved and has become a unique version, influenced by both the Western and South African cultures.

Untitled was created using a mixture of wood glue, water, inks, gold glitter and gold thread. These materials were selected to represent the colourful outfits used and the richness of the music in Bharatanatyam. It depicts the emotional aspect experienced by my twin sister and me when we perform. Each side represents one of us, and they merge to show two different entities working together to create something great.

These artworks portray my journey through dance in claiming my identity as an Indian girl who is South African. I am proud of my Hindu culture, but I am first and foremost a South African, which I have shown through the rich earthy tones in the African Dancer.

Celebrating Africa is celebrating the richness in cultures and religions and respecting the history that led us to this moment. These different fragments, groups of different people and cultures, make up Africa today. While claiming my brown skin and Hindu culture, I am proud to say that I am a South African.

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