Ashraya Naidoo

Artist Catalogue

Virtual Exhibition

Connection, 2021

COVID-19 has had a cataclysmic effect which has brought many hardships, struggles and loss to people around the world. This has also caused me to question and re-evaluate my life, my identity and my purpose.  This has inspired me to create Connection.

I believe that everything is connected. Everything is linked together by an invisible thread impacting each other and developing together.

I present Connection through storytelling. I believe that, by listening to other people’s stories, we reach a realisation that, even though we are each different and come from different backgrounds and experiences and environments, we are so much the same.

I am 23 years old, and, in Connection, I explore 23 questions. I made a video and audio piece of me answering these questions. Using the Zoom application, I also reached out to 23 other people and discussed these questions with them. These Zoom chats are displayed on various screens simultaneously and are arranged around a lounge setting. This setting is used as I believe it is the warmest and most welcoming room in a home. My aim was to create an environment in which the people I spoke with felt safe and comfortable enough to discuss sensitive topics.

To respect the privacy of each person, the audio from each chat is layered over one another. This is to make it difficult to distinguish between the voices and what is being said and to create an impression of a group of people chatting together in a room.

However, due to personal reasons, not all 23 people who participated wanted me to display their conversation in the exhibit.  Some of them were not ready to share their thoughts and feelings as a few of these questions broached sensitive, emotional topics.

Over the past two years, the events that have affected me the most have been the COVID-19 pandemic and the riots and unrest that took place in July 2021.  As an artist and photographer, I wanted to capture the effects of these events on the emotions and lives of the people and community around me.

I created three books:

  • Making History: consists of photographs of my family and I sewing masks for our community and our life during the pandemic,
  • Unrest: looks at the aftermath of the riots of where I live in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal,
  • Connection: an accumulation of notes taken throughout the project, newspaper articles about the pandemic, the riots and other global news. This also includes screenshots of the Zoom chats together with information about each person that participated.

The books are displayed alongside the video installation as these are connected to each other. The conversations with the participants, the shared experiences and the coming together of communities during times of hardship serve to highlight our connection to each other in this wonderful ride called Life!