Derdja or Chasing the Devil Away @ London Design Festival 2011

Set-up in the Grade-Listed building the Bargehouse on the Southbank, the installation plays on a superstitious act during the Eritrean coffee ceremony whereby the host throws popcorn to the corners of the room in order to ‘chase the devil away’.
The Eritrean coffee ceremony is a slow and ethereal affair, one of flickering coal fires, the scent of ground coffee beans, waves of dense white smoke and quiet conversations. Often lasting many hours, guests are traditionally invited for three rounds of coffee. Only the very stubborn manage to leave before the third and final cup.
A fourth round, known as ‘Derdja’, after which the installation is named, is a unique occurrence and one that brings a fortuitous end to the ceremony.
Amidst suspended tufts of popcorn, whose motion is evoked in a subtle play on parallax, visitors to the installation are invited for four cups of coffee, as one might be during the coffee ceremony. These four cups hang precariously over a void of infinite white below.
For each cup of coffee there is a corresponding narrative that further celebrates some of the subtle idiosyncrasies of the ceremony whilst highlighting the disturbing political situations affecting the country.

As visitors play lightly on the strings of the makeshift 'Kraar' (the Eritrean guitar), invoking the traditional sounds of the ceremony, we watch as the initial and slight repercussions of these movements, cause enduring scars.

Press Release.

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A special thanks to Bethany Heggarty, Nina Gerada, Shewainesh & Habtezion Hagos, Joran Rapa Manché, Carla Smyth and Yao Jen Chuang.

All photographs copyright of Bethany Heggarty