Blessing Ngobeni’s Solo presentation at FNB Art Joburg 2022, delves deep within his dreams that have been influenced by his recent discovery that slave owners would often cut and use the hair of black slaves as stuffing for hollow objects such as pillows, mattresses, and seating. Blessing’s ‘Spirit of the Water Dancing’ series seeks to pay homage to those bodies that were exploited for the wealth of their oppressors whilst celebrating and acknowledging the ancestral water spirits who dance in his dreams.
Spirit of the Water Dancing
I had a mysterious dream after a tiring day at my studio painting my dreams. The dream was a blur although I recall some of its images. An unknown spirit appeared to me in the form of a water snake traveling towards a land inhabited by lost souls in a world that is now Babylon.
This spirit was charming but aggressive in nature. It appeared to be concerned and angered by the chaos, fighting, and instability prevalent in the land. The spirit was unsettled by the negative energy emanating from the lost souls that disrupts the peace and haunted the spirit of the dead in the water. who reside in the ocean. The spirit appeared to be dancing erratically rising from the waters and demanding a reaction from the living.
This dream inspired the concept of my current project coupled with my recent discovery of slave owners cutting slaves’ hair and using it as stuffing for hollow objects such as pillows, mattresses, and seating as comfort for their buttocks. This ghastly act of violence is yet another example of how black people were degraded to subhuman status and every inch of their existence was exploited for the wealth and luxury of the European oppressors.
This project is a visual meditation of the rise of an unknown haunting spirit who died resisting the chains of slavery, the handcuffs of colonialism, and the detention of apartheid. The spirits seek to awaken the minds of lost souls roaming the earth desperate to put an end to their ongoing generational suffering.
The spirit wrestles between its nature as a nurturing and caring guardian to its children navigating and its vengeful nature that demands reform for this cruel society that has turned its, descendants into pariahs in the land of their birth.
It is a wonder to many why “people” have been under the thumb of perpetual disdain. Why their souls have been deserted and there seem to be no relief from ongoing suffering? Could it be the ignorance and neglect of spiritual connectedness with our ancestors? Could it be the lack of acknowledgment towards those who gave their lives in resistance?
This dancing spirit is pained over the endless suffering of its children due to unending oppressive regimes besieged on them. Their suffering angers the spirit and it has become impatient with the cruelty that pervades our land. This project seeks to acknowledge the spirit’s presence, to acknowledge the ancestors of the water, and to respond to the call of awakening to put an end to the “curse” laid upon the lost souls.