The Word for Water is Whale

Zadie Xa

  • 3 The Word for Water

    Zadie Xa and Benito Mayor Vallejo, The Word for Water is Whale200 x 400cmOil on linen.  

Past Event

This event was on Thu 15 Jul, 7pm

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Giant shells, orcas and ancient powers are recurring presences in Zadie Xa’s work, where the significance of the sea to diasporic identities is centred. Korean folk tales, such as those of Grandmother Mago – the goddess that created all nature and geographical formations in the universe – are a principle focus of Xa’s projects.

For Ways of Knowing, Xa presents a new online film work, The Word for Water is Whaleexploring the interconnectedness of memory, travel and knowledge transmission via deep listening required to further understand our world and those with whom we share it. This artist talk delves into the ideas in the work and the broader themes of marine existences and watery knowledges across oceans. 

Watch Now: The Word for Water is Whale (2021)

This event is part of our season Ways of Knowing: Water / Fluidity.

About Zadie Xa

Zadie Xa was born and raised in Vancouver on the unceded territories of Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, and is now based in London, UK. Her work is informed by her experiences within the Korean diaspora, as well as the environmental and cultural context of the Pacific Northwest. Her work often features garments, including cloaks and masks, used for live performance and within installation or moving image. Throughout her practice, Xa uses water and marine ecologies as metaphors for exploring the unknown, whilst also alluding to abstract notions of homeland. 

Xa’s practice is highly collaborative, and she has developed ongoing exchanges with dancers, musicians and actors. Since 2006, Xa has worked closely with artist Benito Mayor Vallejo. Together they have staged live performance, moving image, installations and painting.  

Zadie earned an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art in 2014 and a BFA at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 2007.