Searching for Libertalia is inspired by the cult book “A General History of the Pyrates” by Captain Charles Johnson (a possible pseudonym for Daniel Defoe), in which the utopic settlement of Libertalia is established by the fictional character Captain Misson in the island of Madagascar.
Bayjoo explores three main strands within this solo show: Madagascar’s history of piracy with the story of the fictional hero-like figure of Captain Misson, slave trading by the French East India Company throughout the 17th to 19th century, and the Malagasy fight for independence from France’s Vichy government during the Second World War. The interlinking between these distinct narratives reveals the repetitive nature of history. Searching for Libertalia also underlines liberation and anti-colonial movements in African post-colonies and their relation to contemporary questions of race and identity.
Searching for Libertalia spans from video to painting and photographs, and uses archive materials that bridge gaps between dominant narratives of colonisation and hidden histories. Visitors will experience artworks and archive materials displayed in luxuriant frames, magnificent wall cabinets, and an imposing wooden vitrine, alluding to the influence of domestic, religious and institutional spaces in which the creation of historical narratives take place.
Searching for Libertalia was commissioned by New Art Exchange and curated by Shiraz Bayjoo and Cindy Sissokho.