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The Sea is History

The Sea is History features work by contemporary artists who address issues of migration and displacement from both a historical and contemporary perspective.

Isaac Julien, Omeros The Sea is History (Homage to Derek Walcott), 2002/2018

Still picture from the film Paradise Omeros, by Isaac Julien.

The stories and histories extend over a timeframe that begins with the trade of enslaved Africans and continues until today. The exhibition title is inspired by the seminal poem by the St. Lucian Nobel-laureate poet Derek Walcott. The reference serves to emphasize the poetic undercurrent of the exhibition, while also highlighting the relevance of great Caribbean thinkers such as Derek Walcott, Stuart Hall, and Édouard Glissant within a wider geographical and theoretical context.

At a time when forced migration is affecting the lives of an ever-increasing number of individuals worldwide, the question is how contemporary artists can address the topic of displacement in ways that contribute to increased awareness, tolerance, and understanding. Through a combination of site-specific works, installations, videos, works on paper, and performance, the exhibition conveys a nuanced picture of migration.

Participating artists

  • John Akomfrah
  • Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons
  • Andrea Chung
  • Christopher Cozier
  • Manthia Diawara
  • Isaac Julien
  • Naiza Khan
  • Hew Locke
  • Nyugen E. Smith
  • Cosmo Whyte

The exhibition is Curated by Selene Wendt. With generous support from The Museum of Cultural History, Fritt Ord and Goethe-Institut and


An exhibition catalogue has been published by Skira, with emphasis on Caribbean voices and poetry. The book features essays and poems by Christian Campbell, Manthia Diawara, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Kei Miller, Annie Paul, Ishion Hutchinson, Nyugen E. Smith, Derek Walcott, and Selene Wendt.

For more detailed information please see The Global Art Project.

International Conference :The Sea is History: Discourses on the Poetics of Relation

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Other exhibitions

Also visit the museum's permanent exhibition on the Americas and the Caribbean, the transatlantic slave trade and the Santeria religious practice in Cuba.

Published Feb. 20, 2019 1:53 PM - Last modified July 3, 2019 9:22 AM