Shiraz Bayjoo is a Mauritian artist based between London and Mauritius. Bayjoo studied Painting at the University of Wales, Institute Cardiff, and was artist in residence at Whitechapel Gallery during 2011. He has exhibited at Tate Britain and the Institute of International Visual Arts, London, New Art Exchange, Nottingham; 5th Edition Dhaka Art Summit; 14th Biennale of Sharjah; 13th Biennale of Dakar; 21st Biennale of Sydney; and is a recipient of the Gasworks Fellowship and the Arts Council of England. His work is represented in the Sharjah Foundation collection, UK Government collection, and French National collection, as well as private collections both in Europe and Asia. Born in Mauritius, Bayjoo’s work focuses on the Indian Ocean and the European historical legacies that have shaped the region.
Shiraz Bayjoo’s practice explores the social, political and historical conditions integral to Mauritian cultural identity and the wider Indian Ocean region. Often using photographs and artefacts from public and personal archives, culminating in a multidisciplinary practice of video, painting, photography and sculpture. His practice considers the formation of collective identity and nationhood through the entangled legacies of European colonialism, and their relationships to slavery and indentured labour.
Much of his recent work has explored the independence movements of African post-colonies, and the formation of Afro-Indo identities across the Western Indian Ocean. Working between documentary and non-narrative cinematic formats the video works often employ the poetics of language to unpack the complex trauma histories of European slavery and the subsequent Indentured labour system. Academic and anthropological research in the region is placed against vernacular accounts and story telling; working with communities and amateur historians to present a multiplicity of understandings that are not dominated by Eurocentric imaginings of the region. Bayjoo seeks to unravel the narratives that surround our understanding of identity and self, questioning the basis upon which self-authorship and the formation of post-colony independence is imagined.
Through the broader dynamics of Orientalism and colonial propaganda the works address the extent of de-colonisation and the entrenched legacies that perpetuate similar colonial models through societal and political systems. By re-positioning archive photographs into abstract painterly landscapes, and the symbolic use of materials native to the region, Bayjoo creates multiple layers within his installations. Pushing back against the reductionist legacies of shame traditionally associated with emancipated communities, instead speaking of strength and resilience in the imagining of new identities and futures.