Sue Williamson presents "Messages from the Atlantic Passage" at the FNB Joburg Art Fair 2018

Sue Williamson’s large-scale installation, Messages from the Atlantic Passage shows at the FNB Joburg Art Fair 2018 (6 – 9 September). First shown at Art Basel Unlimited in 2017, the installation is a visual representation of the accumulated records of vessels responsible for transporting captives from West Africa to the Americas during the 19th Century – a journey repeated more than 30 000 times that was known as ‘The Atlantic Passage’. Williamson’s work recalls a small handful of those voyages. This remembrance takes the form of fishing nets, filled with glass bottles containing traces of earth, suspended above tanks of water. Each net represents one ship’s journey across the Atlantic. Every bottle, in turn, is hand engraved with information about one of the slaves on that voyage, including their African name, the new ‘Christian’ name given by the slaver, the country of origin, and the age, sex and height of the person. The installation is an extension of Sue Williamson’s acclaimed Messages from the Moat (1997), first exhibited on Okwui Enwezor’s 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, which listed the slaves brought to the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch East India Company between 1658 and 1762.