Grada Kilomba in Lisbon: at Galeria Avenida da Índia, MAAT, Teatro Maria Matos and Hangar


Having lived in Berlin for several years, Grada Kilomba is a Portuguese writer and interdisciplinary artist who is practically unknown in her own country. October marks the beginning of the presentation of her work in Portugal with solo exhibitions at the Galeria Avenida da Índia – Galerias Municipais/EGEAC and MAAT, accompanied by reflections made about her work in conversations at Teatro Maria Matos and HANGAR.

Galeria Avenida da Índia:
Grada Kilomba The Most Beautiful Language
Solo Show
October 27th 2017 till March 4th 2018 (opening October 26th 2017 at 6pm)

The Most Beautiful Language is the first great solo exhibition held by Grada Kilomba, who brings us her unique cross-disciplinary practice of giving a body, a voice and an image to her own texts, using video installations, staged readings, performance, textual collages and sound installations in a single space. Having frequently been told that her native tongue is “the most beautiful language”, the Portuguese artist asks: what are the bodies that can represent this language? And what are the “languages” that these bodies talk? With an intense and precise beauty, Kilomba not only explores the colonial desires and contradictions of the dominant narratives, but she also reveals a space that is filled with new languages. Languages that reveal the urgent voices of a repressed past and present; and that are opposed to what the artist calls a “double ignorance”: not knowing, and not having to know. Curated by Gabi Ngcobo, the exhibition presents new bodies of work that combine a variety of formats and genres, raising fundamental questions about speaking, silencing and listening, in a post-colonial society. For Kilomba, “the most beautiful language” is the language that speaks of the silenced reality itself.

Curator: Gabi Ngcobo • Production: Criativa Moses Leo
Tuesday to Friday, 10am-1pm/2pm-6pm • Saturday to Sunday, 2pm-6pm • Last admission: 30 min before closing time • free entry
Avenida da Índia, 170 – Belém

Grada Kilomba Secrets to Tell
October 27th 2017 till February 5th 2018 (opening October 26th 2017 at 7pm)

The exhibition Secrets to Tell, by the artist Grada Kilomba, is the first solo project to inaugurate the space of the Project Room at MAAT – Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia. Curated by Inês Grosso and derived from the video-installation entitled The Desire Project — a work that was specially conceived for the 32nd São Paulo Biennial (2016), and which is also one of the most recent acquisitions of the Fundação EDP Art Collection. The Desire Project (2015-2016) occupies practically the whole of the exhibition space of the Project Room. Divided into three acts, just like a theatre play – ‘While I Walk, While I Speak and While I Write’ – the work shows a cadenced sequence of phrases and words, which compose a hard-hitting and committed discourse with a series of questions that are situated in a post-colonial perspective linked to representations of the history and decolonisation of thought in our contemporary world. Besides The Desire Project, the exhibition also includes a new version, displayed on four screens, of the stage reading of her famous book ‘Plantation Memories’ – published by Unrast Verlag, Münster, in 2008. Also incorporated into the exhibition, in the form of a video projection, is Kosmos2, Labor #10, in which Kilomba engages in conversation with the radio-activist Diana McCarty. Kosmos2, Labor #10 is presented as a valuable audiovisual archive of documentation on her artistic work, which allows for a broader understanding of her oeuvre and the already-mentioned practice of constantly and continuously moving between the visual and the performing arts and literature, and between academic research and experimental reading activities.
Kilomba is a writer, a theoretician and an interdisciplinary artist with an active involvement in the art scene of Berlin, the city where she lives and works. Having been born in Lisbon, and with roots in São Tomé and Príncipe and Angola, her work touches on questions related with the themes of gender, race, trauma and memory, whether in the context of the present-day problematics existing about colonialism and post-colonialism at the beginning of the twenty-first century, or in order to investigate the ambiguous relationship between memory and forgetfulness, the collective imagination and identity of African cultures, the diaspora and indigenous peoples. Evoking the oral tradition of African cultures and its power to perpetuate the spoken word, her work offers a voice to those narratives that have been silenced over the years, with the aim or rewriting and retelling a history that has been denied or overlooked. Better known for her work as a writer – or for her subversive writing – the artist has been exploring unconventional experimental and interdisciplinary artistic practices, using and combining different means of expression; ranging from performance and video-installations to stage readings and talks that create an interface between text and image, between artistic language and academic language.

Under the scope of the exhibition, there will also be a book launch (involving the first of a new series of books that will be published in conjunction with the exhibition programme established for the MAAT’s Project Room), which also includes an essay by the exhibition curator, Inês Grosso, and the special participation of the artist Alfredo Jaar with a previously unpublished text, in the form of a letter addressed to the artist.

Curator: Inês Grosso
Av. Brasília, Central Tejo

At Teatro Maria Matos
Grada Kilomba and Carla Fernandes Practices of decolonisation: a conversation based on the work of Grada Kilomba
October 28th 2017 6.30pm

Grada Kilomba is a Portuguese artist, whose work has been presented extensively at an international level, but who, in our country, has remained invisible until this year. Posing fundamental questions about the legitimacy of the place of speech ― who speaks; where from; what can be spoken about ― her work deals with questions of memory, race, gender and the decolonisation of knowledge that confront us with the notion of how much still remains to be done if decolonisation is in fact truly going to take place in the context of Portuguese society. What is involved now is not the decolonisation of geographical territories, or the creation of new states, but the decolonisation of mental territories, of ways of living and seeing that still continue to condemn to invisibility the experience of a large group of Portuguese citizens or to prevent the good integration of others from other origins.

A lack of recognition that imprisons us in different forms of parallel lives, instead of promoting an encounter between the two, sometimes made difficult because it is shaped by a long history of violence perpetrated by the colonial behaviour, but potentially fertile and fruitful, if we succeed in paying heed to the multiple forms of living together, and so many other ways of narrating personal and collective histories. These questions will be examined based on the artistic practice of Grada Kilomba, in conversation with Carla Fernandes, a journalist and radio producer, and the mentor of the audio blog Afrolis, made by descendants from African families living in Lisbon.

free entry (subject to availability) tickets available on the day from 3pm at the box-office
duration: 2h • live streaming acessível no próprio dia neste website
Avenida Frei Miguel Contreiras, 52

Talk with Grada Kilomba moderated by Manuela Ribeiro Sanches

November 3rd at 7pm 

Hangar in partnership with the publishing house Orfeu Negro and the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Lisbon is organizing a public talk with the artist Grada Kilomba moderated by Manuela Ribeiro Sanches. The artist will talk about her artistic practice and her work, highlighting the book “Plantation Memories, Episodes of Daily Racism,” and video-documentation of the scenic reading of episodes that explore everyday racism in the form of psychoanalytic histories linking post-colonial and the lyrical. The combination of these two words, planting and memories, describes racism as not only the re-emergence of a colonial past, but also as a traumatic reality.

Rua Damasceno Monteiro 12