Who is Usha Seejarim?


Usha Seejarim works in a wide variety of media.
Usha Seejarim works in a wide variety of media.
Picture: Tebogo Letsie © Sunday Times

Usha Seejarim's work is often born of a ritual-like repetition and humility, and is flavoured both by her urban surroundings and her heritage as a person of Indian origin growing up in South Africa.

"Seejarim has become well known for works, in a variety of media, which speak both of everyday experience and eternal truths," writes Paul Edmunds (www.artthrob.co.za).

"Broadly exploring the themes of journeys and daily rituals, she has collected objects, materials and images and assembled these into artworks... She has workedin photographic and video media and has also made assemblages finding form in both sculptures and images."

Born in 1974 in South Africa, Seejarim obtained a national diploma, and then a BTech degree in Fine Arts from Technikon Witwatersrand and a Master's degree in Fine Arts at Wits University.

Seejarim has worked as a gallery co-ordinator and has a strong commitment to arts education, another field in which she has worked.

She has had several solo exhibitions and has participated in various group exhibitions and art projects locally and internationally. She works in a variety of media including video, photography, installation and printmaking. In 2001, Seejarim was a co-winner of the MTN New Contemporaries Award and, in 2003, she was the recipient of an Ampersand Fellowship, which took her to New York City.

In 2002 she curated the exhibition, Beyond Barriers, for the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Other public commissions include Pin Code for MTN, Johannesburg, and Sequence City, How Latitudes Become Forms for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in the US. Seejarim lives and works in Johannesburg.

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"Truly speaking, it was after I went to South Africa that I became what I am now"
Mohandas Gandhi
Mohandas Gandhi, 1908
Picture: © Sunday Times


In this lesson plan, learners will be asked to extract information from a document, photographs and an extract from Gandhi's speech at the burning of registration certificates in 1908. They will be able to explore the motives of the Transvaal government in issuing passes to male Indians over the age of eight, and the bitter feelings it stirred up among the Indian community. Learners will be introduced to Gandhi's political philosophy - satyagraha - which can be translated as "the force which is born of truth and love, or non-violence".

Lesson plan
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Archive Photo Gallery
Gandhi’s transformation from dapper young lawyer to sage in sandals.
Artwork photo gallery
Take a 360° tour of the memorial outside the Hamidia Mosque on Jennings Street, Fordsburg, Johannesburg.
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