Collegium Helveticum
The Travelling Root I Tessa Mars

In the Beginning There Was Water


Venue: University of Zurich, Department of Romance Studies, Library,
ZĂĽrichbergsrasse 8, 8032 Zurich

Opening hours:
Mon–Fri. 8:00–19:00

This is a public exhibition. Participation is free of charge and registration is not required.

In Haitian Vodou, Agwe is the ruler of the waves of the sea. He is the protector of sailors and ships, but also of the animals and plants of the sea. His ship, IMAMOU, is said to transport the souls of the dead to the afterlife. He created the salt water tears to mourn the deceased and helped the souls of those who suffered crimes against humanity in the slave trade. The Agwe festivals take place on the shore, where his boat is launched in a symbolic procession.

Based on the mystical boat IMAMOU, this exhibition explores the artistic and literary expressions of Haitian spirituality, which are linked to the sea, departure, navigation, and (new) beginnings. What stories does the water tell? What images, texts, and rituals enable Haitians to (re)connect with ancestors and nature, heal individual and collective traumas of past colonial violence, and deal with everyday demands such as political instability, the movements of the earth and bodies, and the effects of global warming on the maritime ecosystem?

Exhibited artists: Laura Arminda Kingsley, Sasha Huber and Tessa Mars.

Opening event
May 14, 2024


Film screening & discussion

With filmmaker Madafi Pierre and novelist Kettly Mars

Collegium Helveticum
Meridian Hall
Schmelzbergstrasse 25
8006 Zurich


Exhibition and reception

University of Zurich
Department of Romance Studies

ZĂĽrichbergstrasse 8
8032 Zurich


Guided tour

With curator Keabetswe Boccomino


Curated by Keabetswe Boccomino (Afrinova).

With the support of Auxartsetc., l’Alliance Française de Zurich, and ASAZ.

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