The Place of Shade

At first, the plan was simple —  to be home by Christmas. To begin to view the very concept of home as built upon nostalgia. Imagining home is a pastime of any immigrant. If, as Breton suggests, ‘The imaginary is that which tends to become real,’ what were our imaginings bringing to life?   


The Place of Shade is an artistic research inquiry into contemporary Norwegian culture in South Africa. Norwegians began operating within the British colonial framework around 1840 — the same period as the migration to America. Lutheran missions, whaling, farming, business and family characterise this almost 200-year Afri-Norge diasporic heritage. It has been almost entirely overlooked in visual culture, until now.


Following the depletion of Whales in the Nordic seas, Norwegian immigrants almost single-handedly established the whaling operations in Durban from 1908 onwards. Their legacy remains an integral component of the city and the province's socio-cultural fabric to this day. With this in mind, we sought out the ghosts of Larsen, Hermansen, Egeland and more from New Pier to Kwambonambi; we found them.


The project is an act of psychogeography, insofar as it hinges upon ‘the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals.’ The images and text that make up the exposition are the culmination of this process. The attempt by a disparate group of individuals, at once insiders and outsiders, to understand how legacy takes shape and how it has reshaped our understanding of Home.


By living with and meeting Norwegian decedents on their farms and homesteads this project was possible. We thank all who were so kind and eager to connect again with their roots.

Project Abstract