THE SEVEN SEAS
Abraaj Capital Art Prize 2012
Medium:7 Cotton Quilts filled with synthetic American wool.
MENASA region (Middle east, North Africa and South Asia) is linked through the British rule in the 20th century. Studying this region, there is a strong link of trade and exchange that resulted in sharing a political and geographical history.
The 20th century saw British Empire thrive on this trade. Raw material like cotton, jute, tobacco, dyes, spices was taken away from the colonies. English people bought Indian cotton in the field, picked by Indian labor at a nominal wage. This cotton would be shipped on British ships to London. The opening of the Suez Canal shortened this trip drastically. Great Britain took control over Egypt in this process. Military garrisons were established in ports of the British Empire as strategic sights along the Great Maritime Route. Cotton would be turned into cloth in Britain and the finished product would be sent back to India at European shipping rates, once again on British ships. And then cloth finally sold back to the kings and landlords of India who had the money to buy this expensive cloth. Through the project ‘The Seven Seas’ this process is investigated and how even after a century we are still a part of the same larger network of forces at work. Within each quilt of the SevenSeas, a tale of rebellion associated with each particular port of trade is woven in.
MENASA accounts for 24 percent of today’s global hydrocarbon production and so economically and politically this is a strategic region.