In the context of Portugal and Lisbon’s histories, presents, and futures, who and what has occupied and continues to occupy space and time in the national collective consciousness?
With its enduring participation in the transatlantic slave trade, combined with centuries of colonisation in Africa, how is visibility and space afforded to Black bodies within the Portuguese collective memory?
Therefore, what does it take for Black bodies to be able to centre joy in the present?
Memorial de Homenagem às Pessoas Escravizadas (the Memorial to Enslaved People) at Campo das Cebolas, was proposed to the Participatory Budget of Lisbon, Portugal in 2017 by Djass – Association of Afrodescendants, and was one of the winning projects of this initiative of the local City Council.
Following an invitation to five artists to submit a project, Kiluanji Kia Henda’s project – “Plantation”; – was the most voted for by the public, between December 2019 and February 2020, thus chosen to represent the Memorial. However, over three years later, the Campo das Cebolas remains without any trace of its commissioned Memorial.
Starting at Rua do Poço dos Negros, where enslaved Africans’ dead bodies were tossed away on the order of a decree by Manuel I of Portugal (1469 – 1521), a group procession, led by Tobi Onabolu, ending at Campo das Cebolas, interrogates the possibilities of using the body for the remembrance of the immaterial and invisible.
The procession and performance will be followed by a screening and conversation of Dear Black Child (2021), at Hangar.
Image credit: Ifebusola Shotunde, 2023.