DeSouza’s most recent work reenacts and upends iconic colonial narratives of discovery in Africa. Through the Black Country, or, The Sources of the Thames Around the Great Shires of Lower England and Down the Severn River to the Atlantic Ocean is based on the expedition diaries of the Zanzibari crypto-ethnologist Hafeed Sidi Mubarak Mumbai, the fictional great-grandson of the historic figure, Sidi Mubarak Bombay—a formerly enslaved African who, upon gaining his freedom in India, returned to Africa and lead numerous British expeditions across Africa. In this installation, comprised of photographs, diary extracts, and sculptural works, Hafeed sets off to fulfill his great grandfather’s unfulfilled wish—to discover the fabled and elusive source of the River Thames.
In addition to his art practice, Allan deSouza is chair of the department of Art Practice at the University of California, Berkeley. His current book project, How Art Can Be Thought, an examination of art pedagogy and a lexicon of terms used within the art critique, will be published in 2018.