2020, single-channel video, sound, 3.20 mins.

This series of actions, titled karambu, developed for Artspace Sydney’s 52 ACTIONS is part of my ongoing research navigating my familial history as a descendant of Indian indentured labourers sent to work on sugar plantations in Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa). This action reframes and reimagines the colonial archive that has stood to represent my family and this history of sugar and indenture, countering it from the perspective of those indentured and their descendants. karambu takes form as a counter-archive, moving away from colonial representations of this history towards a consideration of culturally specific frameworks, oral traditions and the intangible. This work is made of sounds, words and images that offer space for these histories.

Notes: karambu is the transliteration of the Tamil word for sugarcane, one of the terms used by indentured labourers in Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa).

Sound recordings: Isha Ram Das

This project was supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, and by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.