Those that we left behind (2019 on going) by Icaro May 14, 2023 0 News, Performance

Those that we left behind (2019 on going)

Performance by Helena Uambembe @Uambembe

16th May | 6pm


Set within an installation of soil and water, this performance is an extension of an installation and performance (those that we left behind) presented at the Iziko South African National Gallery 2021. Through this performance Uambembe explores what is invoked by the process of moving through lands, borders and territories, as well as notions of home. Uambembe invokes the various stories she has encountered throughout her practice from women who recount memories of crossing borders, mostly at night and questioning what trails are left behind and the trails these movements inscribe on the body and land.

Soil, a material present in her practice and in this particular work symbolises notions of burial and traces. In this performance the incorporation of bright river sand connects to arid desert terrains and the healing and spiritual properties of the ocean is juxtaposition with the rich dark soil reminiscent of more tropical terrains.

For this iteration of the performance Uambembe question notion of colonialism and the relationship between former colonies and their colonisers.


Helena Uambembe is an Angolan-South African artist whose work interrogates the dyadic relationship between the political (world politics) and the domestic (personal politics). Drawing from personal and familial history, Uambembe maps the ideological and intimate space created by the historical and colonial links between Angolan, Southern African and global history.

Born in South Africa in 1994, her Angolan parents fled the Angolan civil war back in 1975 and settled in the embattled Pomfret with other families of the 32 Battalion. This complex family history (itself a disruption of current accepted narratives of post-colonial Africa), the 32 Battalion, Pomfret and her Angolan heritage are dominant themes in her multi-disciplinary approach. In 2022 Uambembewas awarded the Baloise Art Prize 2022 for her installation What you see is not what you remember, shown at Art Basel, Statements Section. She is currently based in Berlin where is a fellow of the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD).