implosion concentrates matter and energy
retracts monoliths into
in on itself exceedingly quickly
where they said they’d burn
so empty it breathes
becoming futures even
god can’t see.
The excerpt above is taken from Aromatic Achromatic, a poem written in collaboration with Khanya Mashabela, which speaks about her work. Alexandra Karakashian’s practice is entrenched in her personal and family history. Her engagement with her heritage, nationality, race and culture facilitates her artistic process, which focuses on broader current issues. Reflecting on themes of exile, mourning, migration, refugee status, demographic and geographical divisions – ideas that are at the central to discourse around the Euro-African relationship – Karakashian explores the metanarrative of various current and historical societies’ relationships to ‘landscape’, both in southern Africa and further abroad.
The use of the black and white binary against a neutral backdrop referenced South Africa’s complex sociopolitical history and her own understanding of on-going racial discrimination in South Africa and around the world. The artist utilized used engine oil and salt to evoke ecological crises altering our world today. These materials aided in the artist’s exposing of the rampant, unethical seizure of natural resources, with the African continent at the forefront. Sump oil, with all its negative connotations and effects on the environment, is considered to be one of the most influential and destructive resources on the planet.