The exhibition Under Cover of Darkness aims to highlight the experience of colonial subjects through a specific focus on the lives of three women – ‘Susanna of Bengal’, Krotoa and an as yet unidentified other – by intervening in the Slave Lodge, a symbolically laden site. The exhibition further seeks to surface questions concerning how such histories continue to bear on the present.
‘Susanna of Bengal ’ was a slave who worked in the Company’s Gardens – in 1669 she was tried and sentenced to death by the colonial administration for the purported murder of her infant daughter under uncertain circumstances.
Krotoa – niece of Autshumao, a Khoi leader – was taken into van Riebeeck’s household as a child. Having learnt to master both Dutch and Portugese, Kratoa’s intimate understanding of both Khoikhoi and Dutch culture saw her occupy a complex social and political position under colonial rule.
A number of slave woman were held at the Lodge yet many of them remain unnamed. Little more is known than where they came from and when they died; this exhibition will engage with issues of such invisibility.