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"Aise Aise Hai (How we remember)"  2023

Wall text

Wall text

Shivanjani Lal  

Born 1982, Lautoka, Ba, Viti | Fiji. Lives and works in Darug Country, Western Sydney.

Pronouns: she/her


"Aise Aise Hai (How we remember)" 2023


87 cast sugarcane stalks sourced in Deptford, Lidcombe, Mount Druitt and Cabramatta, plaster, cement, turmeric, calcium hydroxide and brass

Courtesy of the artist, Darug Country, Western Sydney. 


Commissioned by Campbelltown Arts Centre for ‘The National 4: Australian Art Now,’ 2023 assisted by the New South Wales Government through Create NSW and with special thanks to Tilt Industrial Design.

Shivanjani Lal’s installation Aise Aise Hai (How we remember) is a monument to the cultural memory of indentured labourers throughout the Great Ocean. A field of 87 cast ghanna (sugarcane) stalks, it references the number of boats that transported over 60,000 people from the British colonies of India to Fiji between 1879 and 1916 to work on sugarcane plantations; among them were Lal's great-grandparents. Lal pays tribute to the past and present Indo-Fijian community, the Girmityas, indentured labourers of South-Asian descent who were bound to the sugarcane plantations that ensured the British empire’s wealth and labour extractions. 

Each ghanna is an access point to kahaani (story), with the memory and spirit of Lal’s ancestors. The artist’s work stands in opposition to the use of ghanna as a commodity of mass consumption and profit for the empire. Fuelling the wealth of the colony, the sugarcane farms in Queensland also followed a plantation model, literally built on the labour of enslaved Indigenous peoples of Australia and the wider Great Ocean. Aise Aise Hai (How we remember) serves as a powerful visual memorial to the physical hardships and cultural upheaval of indentured labour communities. Lal imbues the work with vital retellings, with certain casts made with the warm embrace of diasporic communities in Darug Country/Western Sydney, visible in turmeric bands on the stalks. 


Lal’s field of ghanna and kahaani represents a threshold to be walked through and around, encouraging us to understand a monument as a physical embodiment of collective memory—a space of contemplation, healing, and storytelling. As Indo-Fijian Australian poet Manisha Anjali writes of Aise Aise Hai (How we remember):

How do the living commune with the dead? Kahaani (story).


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