Tea for Five 2017

The sea is a site of invisible trade and labor. The infrastructures that allow for accumulation of capital rely on tax evasion, speculation and new forms of labor and extraction of materials and value. They are embedded in seas and their vicinity, and regardless of their hidden nature, present in our shared visible infrastructures. They exist in immaterial financial flows on one hand, and in the fragility of human life on the other. Illegal trades, often drug trades, have historically been the basis of colonial projects. How can performative practice expand silent archives? How can past centuries economies be read with the conceptual and visual tools we have today? How can we speak about the current epidemics by speaking about the past? Tea for five: Opium Clippers is a visual essay joining hand painted ceramics and performance, a tea ceremony that uses ritual and storytelling to shed light on a period that has had a profound impact on the world today.

Opium Clippers 2019

The artist book Opium Clippers is based on the series of homonymous tea ceremonies. The book Opium Clippers is a combination of images and texts through which the artist narrates stories based on documents while, at the same time, consciously transitioning from the factual to the symbolic level the tea and opium trade, referring to a past time when notions on politics, class, gender, religion and culture as we know them now were being (trans)formed. It also refers to the present time, however, as this enormous industry is still at the heart of many economic and military superpowers, whose roots can be traced to tea and opium trade. The book is designed as an unbound archive in which the performative shifts to the reader, a scenography for a performative lecture or an exhibition.

Note: The text above was written by the Artist. No modification was made by COCA.

Neja Tomšič



Neja Tomšič (1982) is a visual artist, poet, and writer whose interdisciplinary practice merges drawing, photography, poetry, performance, and music. By uncovering overlooked and often hidden stories from history, her passion is to rethink dominant historical narratives, researching into particularities, and creating situations where new understandings of the present can be formed. She approaches histories as maps of starting points and links. Performative elements in her projects explore possible projections of history into the subjective present of individual visitors. ​

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