R. Dr. Nicolau Bettencourt, Lisbon
Throughout 2019, in the Modern Collection Project Space, the Gulbenkian Museum has developed a programming cycle dedicated to national and international contemporary artists whose works question and problematise the colonial past and its legacy in the present – a present still to be decolonised – summoning history, memory, the experience of the diaspora, proposing alternative narratives and giving a voice (and image) to other protagonists. Yto Barrada, Filipa César, Irineu Destourelles (on exhibition until 6 January) are the artists who have developed projects specifically for the space. Associated with this programme and new acquisition policies for works in the Modern Collection, in November the Museum will host the Where I (we) Stand Meetings in the Multipurpose Room, next to the Project Space. These meetings were conceived in collaboration with the associations and collectives Djass, Femafro, Inmune and Padema.
With the title Where I (we) Stand, the Meetings summon the places of colonial history, focusing on the Portuguese colonial past while anchoring itself in the present to reflect on the places from which we defend the construction of other narratives and expand possibilities to other ‘imaginations’. In this sense, it is also the site of an active positioning in relation to these issues. The Meetings intend to focus on black feminisms that, through intersectional thinking and structure, deal with problems of colonialism, decolonisation and racism, but also with issues of gender and class. Such voices have long been subject to a process of double invisibility.
Participating in the Meetings are Ângela Ferreira, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Flávio Almada, Irineu Destourelles, Laura Hampden, Marta Lança, Melissa Rodrigues, Museum Detox, Raquel Lima, Rita Fabiana, Vânia Gala and the Entities Moinho da Juventude, Djass, Femafro, Inmune and Padema.
Ângela Ferreira was born in 1958 in Maputo, Mozambique. She concluded her Fine Art studies in South Africa, obtaining a MFA from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. She lives and works in Lisbon, teaching Fine Art at the Lisbon University, where she obtained her doctorate in 2016. Ferreira’s work develops around the ongoing impact of colonialism and post-colonialism on contemporary society, an investigation that is conducted through in-depth research and distillation of ideas into concise and resonant forms. She represented Portugal at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007.
The Associação Cultural Moinho da Juventude is a non-profit organisation located in the Cova da Moura neighbourhood. Founded by a group of local residents in 1984, Moinho da Juventude has become known for its wide range of projects in the area of training and support for local children and young people, among other initiatives. Besides the offer of community-based projects, a principal aim of the association is to help people who struggle with integration, providing services such as support for parents in the promotion of education and basic care of their children, after school programmes and other services related to professional training, social support and cultural activities.
Denise Ferreira da Silva’s academic writings and artistic practice address the ethical questions of the global present and target the metaphysical and ontoepistemological dimensions of modern thought. She is a professor and director of The Social Justice Institute (GRSJ) at the University of British Columbia. Her art-related work includes texts for publications for the Liverpool, São Paulo and Venice Biennales, and for Documenta 14, as well as collaborations with Arjuna Neuman in the films Serpent Rain (2016) and 4Waters-Deep Implicancy (2018); and events (performances, talks, and private sessions) and texts related to Poethical Readings and the Sensing Salon, with Valentina Desideri.
Djass – Associação de Afrodescendentes is a non-profit organisation established in 2016. Its main objectives are to denounce and combat all forms of racism and discrimination against people of colour and African descent in Portugal and to promote a critical and comprehensive reflection on inter-ethnic relations in Portugal in order to contribute to social transformation and the positive affirmation of people of colour and African descent as full members of Portuguese society. The association is committed to the fight to deconstruct the Eurocentric visions of History, reclaiming the contribution of Africans in the construction of knowledge, culture and history; it is committed to the organisation of initiatives for the dissemination and valorisation of black and African identities and cultures. Since its inception, Djass has always worked in articulation and partnership with other associations and activist groups at a national level.
Founded in 2016 and led by women and young people, FEMAFRO is a non-profit association with a mission to defend and promote the rights of black, African and Afro-descendant women in Portugal. FEMAFRO seeks the elimination of all forms of ethnic-racial and gender discrimination, based on the ethical principles of equality, social and industrial justice and the promotion of quality of life and respect for human rights. As an autonomous and independent organisation, it brings together women from all walks of life in the areas of education, culture, health, promotion and the defence of human rights.
A multidisciplinary artist and writer, Grada Kilomba (Lisbon, 1968) lives and works in Berlin, where she has developed a body of work that combines literature, theatre, music, performance and installation. Colonisation and its legacy – memory, trauma, race and gender –, decolonisation and African diaspora are central themes in her work, which critically analyses systems of knowledge production through the formulation of three rudimentary questions: ‘Who can speak?’, ‘What can we speak about?’ and ‘What happens when we speak?’
The INSTITUTO DA MULHER NEGRA EM PORTUGAL – INMUNE is an intersectional and anti-racist feminist entity constituted by women, under private law, non-profit, solidary, nonpartisan, but not apolitical, that combats the silencing of black, African and Afro-descendant women in History and in present time. It promotes the empowerment and the social and political participation of women, an equality of rights, parity and social justice. Through its reflections and activities, it provides an environment of affirmation and valorisation of black and African heritage in Portugal.
Irineu Destourelles currently exhibits his latest work, entitled Subtitulizar/Subtitling, in the Modern Collection’s Project Space (Calouste Gulbenkian Museum). His work has been exhibited at Casa África (Las Palmas), Videobrasil (Sesc Pompeia, São Paulo), Fondazione Giorgio Cini (Venice), Transmission (Glasgow), Mama Showroom (Roterdão) and screened at ICA (London), Transmediale (Berlin), Hangar Bicocca (Milan) and Espaço Transversal of ArtRio 2017 among others. He currently lives and works between Edinburgh and London. He studied at the Willem de Kooning Akademie (Rotterdam) and at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design (London).
Laura Hampden acts as a development lead on the Museum Detox Executive Committee. She is an archaeologist by training, currently working within the development-led archaeology Greater London’s Archaeological Advisory Service. As chair of Historic England’s Racial Equality Network, and through her work with Museum Detox, Laura is currently advocating for organisations in the heritage sector to invest in the development of staff equality networks. Through these networks we can develop a representative and intersectional approach to equality, diversity and inclusion within the heritage and cultural sector.
Marta Lança is a Phd student on Artistic Studies at FCSH – University Nova de Lisboa, working around the post-colonial debate in the arts field. Lança created V-Ludo and Dá Fala cultural magazines (in Cape Verde) and, since 2010, is the editor of BUALA, a portal of reflection on matters related to the global South. In Luanda, between 2005 and 2008, she taught at Agostinho Neto University and collaborated with Luanda’s 1st Triennial and with DOCKANEMA, Maputo’s international film festival (2009). She organised the programme Vozes do Sul for the Festival do Silêncio (2017); numerous conferences for the project NAU! (Porto, 2018); with Raquel Lima, the cycle ‘Para nós, por nós’, African and African-Diasporic culture in debate (2018), among others. She translated two books by Achille Mbembe.
With a post-graduate degree in Performance and a degree in Anthropology, Melissa Rodrigues completed the Intensive Accompanied Training in Performing Arts course at c.e.m. – centro em movimento. She has worked in community arts and arts education projects through associations such as MOVEA and in public schools in the municipality of Amadora. Rodrigues currently lives in Porto and works as an educator in the Educational Service of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art and in A Oficina, an education and cultural mediation service in Guimarães. She was involved in the foundation of the pedagogical project SPACE SP620 – Salut Au Monde! A performer, art educator and member of the Anti-Racist Centre of Porto, in June 2019 she joined the team of the cultural association RAMPA Porto, Associação Cultural.
raquellima (1983) is a Lisbon based poet from both banks of the Tagus river and the Atlantic Ocean, an Angolan mother, a Santomean father, a Senegalese paternal grandmother and a Brazilian maternal great-grandmother. A poet, performer and art educator, raquellima presented her work in literature, oral narration, poetry slam, spokenword, performance and music events, namely FLIP – Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty, FLUP Rio – Festival Literário das Periferias, FOLIO – Festival Literário Internacional de Óbidos, among others. The transdisciplinarity with which she approaches art, memory and society, attentive to social inequalities and allied to a desire to find and understand her roots, led her to return to the academy, where she develops her research focused on orature and slavery in São Tomé and Prince at the Center for Social Studies at the University of Coimbra.
A Platform for the Development of the African Woman, Padema is a non-profit association that defends the cultural and identity values of the African woman, namely from Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe.
Vânia Gala is a choreographer and researcher based in London. She holds a BA in Dance from EDDC (European Dance Development Center, Arnhem) and Master of Arts in Choreography with Distinction (Trinity Laban). She is a PhD candidate at Kingston University and a PASS studentship awardee. Gala’s choreographies and ‘conversational performances’ explore the critical potential of disappearance, (non)performance, opacity and withdrawal in choreography in the present time. Her choreographic work has been performed in Angola, Portugal, Norway, Germany, Ireland, UK, Russian Federation and Austria.
By Penelope Curtis and Rita Fabiana
Museum Detox is a volunteer led network that developed in response to the lack of representation and support of BAME professionals in museums and the wider cultural and heritage sector. It is a collective, activist network through which we empower each other to challenge the colonial structural power inequalities inherent within the sector. This paper will present the formation of networks like Museum Detox as a resistance strategy for Black women in the heritage sector, and a vehicle through which we can influence meaningful change.
By Laura Hampden
This talk assumes the performative conversational form, based on a round-table with the participants. Departing from the idea of positioning as performative or even more mundanely as a position assumed in, with or within black bodies we will frame questions and speculate together about particular positionings.
By approaching performance from this perspective I aim to open up, share alternative performances, knowledges and even concepts often ‘reduced’ (E. Glissant, 1997) or ignored. Moreover, such an approach can prove productive in exchanging generative performances manifest in opaque, often undecipherable practices or particular utterances that can invite other possible collective futurities.
By Vânia Gala
Moderator Marta Lança
In order to respond to a lack of housing that dates from before and after the revolution of 25 April – a period of enormous demographic pressure in Greater Lisbon – Cova da Moura emerged from the synergy of the collaborative ‘Djunta Mô’ mentality of its local inhabitants. Over the years, Cova da Moura has become one of the most disfigured spaces in the social representation of this country. As a counterpoint to the dominant narrative, ‘Nas Nossas Lentes: Agora somos nós a fazer as perguntas’ (In Our Sights: Now it’s us who ask the questions) is the result of a project of critical stimulation developed by 13 to 17-year-olds in Cova da Moura, whose interpretative paradigm privileges the local narratives of these young people.
By Associação Cultural Moinho da Juventude
Moderator Flávio Almada (Coordinator, Associação Cultural Moinho da Juventude)
This book brings together 24 selected poems from a decade of uneven writing. Together they close a chapter that I called ‘Ingenuity Innocence Ignorance’, three words which may be confused, with ambiguous and contradictory significations. These inevitable human ambiguities and contradictions make up this book, which is assumed to be a space of vulnerability that reflects an identity under construction, and in which words can be read both by their wear and void of meaning and by the recognition that they are the only way for a possible struggle and peace. And because our bodies carry stories, cultures and knowledge, memories gain dimension through performance, so this is also an audiobook.
Presentation by Marta Lança and poetry reading by raquellima
Simultaneous translation in English-Portuguese and Portuguese-English
By Rita Fabiana
In this intervention, Denise Ferreira da Silva analyses how colonial domination and racial subjugation call into question fundamental ideals of justice.
Aimed mainly at raising questions, this intervention seeks to accentuate what is common across the various modalities and situations of racial subjugation in the global panorama of today. Instead of offering answers, the analysis identifies lines of reflection that can help in the formulation of a discourse and a political programme that encompasses the question of racial submission and its implications for justice.
By Denise Ferreira da Silva
Kilomba dedicates her new two-channel video installation to the politics of justice and the symbolism of a proper burial. Antigone, the story of a woman who challenges the patriarch. The burial of a brother who was proclaimed to be left unmourned. And her assassination, for disobeying the king and performing the rituals for the dead. What if the ghosts of the past are spirits that are doomed to wander precisely because their stories have not been told? In the eyes of the artist, Antigone needs to bury her brother properly, because she needs to produce memory. Only through the burial and its rituals can her own history be remembered, and not forgotten.
Two-channel video installation, sound, 54’ 35”, in loop. Commissioned by the Bildmuseet, Umeå, Sweden and the Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin, Germany.
By Grada Kilomba
Moderator Raquel Lima
Associations Djass (Evalina Dias), Femafro (Lucia Furtado), Inmune (Angella Graça) and Padema (Luzia Moniz). Moderator Denise Ferreira da Silva
How many black men and women are represented in advertising, television, cinema, painting, photography and in the books on our shelves? How are they represented? Following a Google search for ‘image and representation of the black body in visual culture’, along with images of the enslaved, sexualised, fetishised, submissive and wild black body, I find new visual and aesthetic narratives and discourses for those who seek to reposition themselves from within ‘the belly of the beast’ and deconstruct and create other representations of themselves and the black body. This is where I find myself.
By Melissa Rodrigues
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