Indigo 2016 – 2017
The INDIGO – Passage to Healing body of work represents a bold new de-colonial discourse exploring HEALING through painting and performance, closely connecting the themes to the historic Indigo dye that runs through a hidden narrative in African history, soaking it in untold stories of the mass enslavement of Africans, and a disconnected heritage in which bodies were traded for cloth. Ending Invisibility & Women’s Bodies Edited Out of History.
In a review of the work, leading author, art critic and editor Ashraf Jamal says “Robyn Denny and Mamela Nyamza’s Indigo Africa, an installation and performance – presented at AKAA – tracks the history of empire, and, in concert with that history of ideological domination and material extraction, the oppression of women.”
In the large-scale canvases Denny explores the natural pigment indigo through its complex history of tumultuous trade. At once the colour of royalty and oppression, a piece of indigo cloth was traded for a slave life in colonised Africa. Indigo profits built the Vlisco empire, while Vlisco itself contributed to what scholars call the “African Print” hoax.
Focal points for Denny are the Dahomey Amazons who wore indigo, and the economically voracious interface of the Dutch with the pigment in West Africa. Mesmeric layers emerge in a series soaked in the history of this deep hue – Denny has ground and liquefied the processed leaves of the Indigofera tinctoria plant for the works.