Sarogua Mourning (2011)

Single channel video, 11mins 37secs.

In 2011, Zina made Sarogua Mourning, a video installation that confronted her inability to mourn her father’s death and explored the relationship between performance and catharsis.

I did not cry for ten years after my father was killed. I found his very public death difficult to mourn partly because his legacy and story belonged to the wider world and not to me, but also due to a profound dissatisfaction with the Western mourning rites I found myself having to draw on at the time of his death and the death of my younger brother before him.”

The two deaths laid bare her cultural dislocation and highlighted the importance of the role of culture in attending to emotional pain. Sarogua Mourning is an attempt to construct a ritual that worked for her. Performance and art being a vital part of this ritual. For the piece, Zina took on the role of a professional mourner, shaving her head and attempting a mourning performance for her camera, engaging with the lens as much as she could.

The title of the piece arose from her research into a pre-colonial Ogoni deities. Sarogua is a rain god and also a war deity.  By sheer coincidence, Zina’s father invoked the deity in a poem he wrote titled “For Sarogua” which talked of “washing away pain” and “cleansing showers”.  The poem was discovered accidentally by Zina after the naming of her video piece.

Sarogua Mourning was first shown at Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town as part of the group exhibition What We Talk About When We Talk About Love; was shown at The Pulitzer Foundation in St Louis as part of The Progress of Love exhibition in 2012/13; at Cokkie Snoei Gallery in Rotterdam in 2013 and most recently it has been projected onto the Manhattan Bridge on in June 2015.

Sarogua Mourning on Manhattan BridgeSarogua Mourning projected onto the Manhattan Bridge as part of “Crest and Trough” video exhibition curated by Sarah Walko and John Ensor Parker, June 2015.