Thania Petersen: KASSARAM

Thania Petersen, KASSARAM, 2020. Selected by Bag Factory, Johannesburg, South Africa.

28 September 2021 – 9 January 2022

KASSARAM (2020) is taken from an old Malay word meaning ‘a big mess’ or ‘things being out of place’. Thania Petersen‘s (b. South Africa) animated film looks at the artistic strategies historically used by European colonisers to demarcate hierarchies of diverse communities in South Africa.


Thania Petersen is a multi-disciplinary artist who uses photography, performance, and installation to address the intricacies and complexities of her identity in contemporary South Africa. Petersen’s reference points sit largely in Islam and in creating awareness about its religious, cultural, and traditional practices. She attempts to unpack contemporary trends of Islamophobia through her analysis of the continuing impact of colonialism, European and American imperialism, and the increasing influence of right-wing ideologies. Threads in her work include the history of colonialist imperialism in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, as well as the social and cultural impact of westernized consumer culture. Her work is also informed by her Cape Malay heritage and the practice of Sufi Islamic religious ceremonies. Petersen studied at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art in London. In 2018, Petersen held her solo exhibition IQRA at WHATIFTHEWORLD, Cape Town. She has hosted additional solo exhibitions in 2016 at the AVA, Cape Town and in 2017 at the Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions both locally and abroad, including Radical Love at the Ford Foundation, New York (2019) and Present Passing: South by Southeast at the Osage Art Foundation, Hong Kong (2019). Petersen was awarded the Thami Mnyele Residency in Amsterdam in 2019.