Exhibition: Now that we found freedom, what are we gonna do with it? | Narratives about post-independence and decolonization processes
Curated by: Kiluanji Kia Henda & Ana Sophie Salazar
Opening: April 7th, 2022 – 6pm to 9pm
Dates: Exhibition open until May 12th, from Wednesday to Saturday, between 3pm and 7pm
Place: R. Damasceno Monteiro, 12 R/C | 1170-112 – Lisbon
Yoel Díaz Vázquez
Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro
This exhibition is the beginning of a broader study that focuses on the narratives of the peoples who gained independence after many long centuries of colonialism. Having regained power, the oppressed now speak from this position of authority about rethinking the very idea of power and the ways it could be reorganised. The struggle for independence gave rise to several other struggles through its re-definition after independence, a period called freedom, characterised by a determination to dismantle the colonial heritage. To this day, the prejudices that Christianity and the patriarchy left behind still permeate the social fabric of former European colonies, prompting younger generations to join social, feminist and trans-feminist movements to combat this legacy. These are the movements and struggles that pertinently and forcefully ask what has become of the conquest of freedom. To ask these questions, it is vital to be aware not only of the achievements that have created the decolonised Americas and Africa of today, but also to feel a sense of responsibility for their earlier struggles. The participating artists collectively question the management of post- independence freedom and ask what the struggles of today are.
Eyes and ears are focused on inclusive futures, in which categories of representation flow in a decentralised way. While the authoritarian power figure is deconstructed, cultural and social diversities are celebrated, and the notions of freedom and citizenship are explored. The investigation of the political and historical processes of post- independence enable a rethinking of colonial relationships with the West. The exhibition highlights reference points from Angola, which are joined by Latin American voices expressing similar demands. Through the work exhibited, another legacy, parallel but inverse to the colonial one, is also brought forward, to be both honoured and continued. This is the inheritance of all the other forces of resistance, a diversity of lives which always found ways to resist.
Conceived by Kiluanji artist Kia Henda and HANGAR – Centre for artistic research, and co-curated by Ana Sophie Salazar, the exhibition is an extension of an invitation to Kiluanji, which gave him carte blanche to take over the space. Participants include emerging Angolan artists Hélio Buite, Rui Magalhães and Mwana Pwo, who were nominated by Kiluanji for residencies at HANGAR during March, as well as the artists Clara Ianni, Mussunda N’zombo, Daniela Ortiz, Yoel Díaz Vázquez, and Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro.
Hélio Buite (Angola, 1992) lives and works in Luanda. A civil engineering graduate, he grew up in Luanda, navigating and constantly switching between two different contexts: formal and informal Luanda. His artistic practice delves into different disciplines such as photography, video, installations, audio, and documentation, to analyse the ways in which families are at the core of African societies, while caught between their desire for decolonisation and the patent reality of their colonial relationship with the West – also processing the influences and effects of independence movements, neo-colonialism, civil wars, and the complexities of the political systems.
Clara Ianni (Brazil, 1987), lives in São Paulo, and studied Visual Arts at the University of São Paulo. She has participated in the exhibitions Histórias Feministas, MASP (2019), Utopia/Distopia, MAAT Lisbon (2017), Jakarta Biennale (2015), 31st Biennale of São Paulo (2014), Yebisu Festival, Tokyo (2015), 19th Panorama VideoBrasil, 33rd Panorama de Arte Brasileira, MAM São Paulo (2013), and the 12th Istanbul Bienniale (2011). She has held residencies in AIR Residency, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, HIWAR I Conversations in Amman (2013), Bolsa Pampulha, Pampulha Museum, Belo Horizonte (2011). She curated the programme “Futuro da Memória – Poéticas de Memória e Esquecimento na América Latina”, Goethe Institute (2016-18).
Rui Magalhães (Angola, 1985) lives and works in Luanda. A photographer, and visual and video artist, he explores life on the streets of Luanda, observing the city’s population and the systems and scenarios of their adaptation to urban life. Studying the use and occupation of spaces, his practice is a mixture of critically recording Luanda’s recent architectural history, and of urban archaeology, documenting the city’s inoperable relationships and the phenomena of African urbanism. He has exhibited at Vidrul Fotografia (2016) and participated in Fuckin’ Globo in 2020 and 2021.
Mussunda N’Zombo (Angola, 1973) lives and works in Luanda. A visual and performance artist with an eclectic practice that combines various elements of the dramatic and performing arts, with a marked proclivity for satire, parody and tragicomedy. The performances of his multiple characters, captured live, in performative photography or video-performance, portray identity narratives that are rarely addressed publicly in our society, as well as the situational contrasts between ‘Urban’ and ‘Rural’ realities, the acculturation and de-acculturation of communities in Angola, generational coexistence, and the peculiar phenomena of the exercise of social and political power on the continent. His work describes and records the environment in which he lives. Because of the different realities it portrays, it is often described as socio-political and multicultural.
Daniela Ortiz (Peru, 1985) seeks out to generate, through her artistic practice, visual narratives that critically question concepts such as nationality, racialisation, social class and gender, with the aim of analysing colonial, capitalist and patriarchal power. Her recent projects and research address the European system of migration control, its links to colonialism and the legal mechanisms created by European institutions that enable them to act violently against migrant and racialised populations. She has also produced several projects on the Peruvian upper class and their relationship with the exploitation of domestic workers. More recently her visual and manual work has focused on ceramics, collage, drawing and other forms, such as children’s books, with the aim of moving away from Eurocentric conceptual aesthetics.
Mwana Pwo (Angola, 1988) lives and works in Luanda. A photographer and visual artist, Pwo portrays contemporary life with intensity and an eye for contrast, actively recording the multiple dimensions of the individual being, while capturing the underlying social realities of modern-day Angola. Her work also presents a feminist examination of social roles, experiences and personal stories, which she sometimes explores through self-portraits. Her visions are expressed mainly through documentary photography and portraits. Currently, she is expanding her practice by experimenting with mixed media techniques. Her latest intervention was included in Fuckin’ Globo 2021.
Yoel Díaz Vázquez (Cuba, 1973) lives and works in Berlin. He has a BA in Sculpture from Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes San Alejandro, Havana (1997), and a Diploma in Video Editing and VFX from SAE Institute, Berlin (2013-14). Through his video installations, he focuses on oral, linguistic and performative urban culture, including social activism. For him, video is a medium that can bear witness not only to immediacy, but also to actions that gain documental value when recorded for posterity. His aim is to draw attention to the critical positions and poetic demands expressed in the works of a specific social-artistic group, enabling them to gain a direct presence on the stages of contemporary art.
Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro (Brazil, 1996) is an artist, writer and clinical psychologist (CRP 06 / 162518) educated at the Federal University of Espírito Santo. She has a master’s in clinical psychology from PUC-SP. She embodies Transmutation as an inevitable designation. She manipulates, incorporates and immerses herself in her Bantu ontology. She has accepted healing as an ephemeral moment of freedom. She studies and builds inter specific spirituality and ancestry. Born in Fonte Grande, Vitória/Espírito Santo, Brazil, she lives and works on Planet Earth.
Kiluanji Kia Henda (Angola, 1979) lives and work in Luanda. In his practice, he uses art as a means of transmitting and constructing history, exploring photography, video, performance, installations, object-sculpture, music and avant-garde theatre as ways of materialising fictional narratives and shifting facts to different temporalities and struggles. Using humour and irony, the artist represents the complexity of themes such as identity, politics, and perceptions of post-independence and modernity in Africa. Working in perverted complicity with historical legacy, he sees the process of appropriation and manipulation of public spaces and structures as different constructions of the collective memory.
Ana Sophie Salazar (Ecuador / Portugal, 1990) is a curator, writer and co-founder of the Museum for the Displaced, a para-institution that addresses forced migration and displacement. Through exploring nomadic, poly-linguistic and cross-cultural subjectivities, she inventively questions current geopolitical mappings. From 2016 to 2020, she was Assistant Curator of Exhibitions at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore. Ana has an MA in Curatorial Practices from the School of Visual Arts, New York, and a degree in Piano from the Escola Superior de Música de Lisbon. She participated in the Shanghai Curators Lab (2018), the Project Anywhere mentorship programme (2020-21), and is currently curator-in-residence (2021-22) at Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral, Germany.