30 June 2020

Black bodies in the white space of the museum

Curators' Choices: Rita Fabiana highlights the work «Illusions Vol. I Narcissus and Echo» by Grada Kilomba

Grada Kilomba, Still of 'Illusions Vol. I, Narcissus and Echo', 2017. Modern Collection

A multidisciplinary artist and writer, Grada Kilomba (Lisbon, 1968) lives and works in Berlin, where she has developed a 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?’ ‘What happens when we speak?’.

Grada Kilomba, ‘Illusions Vol. I, Narcissus and Echo’, 2017. Two-channel video installation, HD, colour, sound, 31’32” (excerpt). Modern Collection


The installation Illusions Vol. I Narcissus and Echo, 2017, restages the Greek myth of Narcissus and Echo, reviving at the same time the African oral traditions of the storyteller and the oral knowledge production. Here, the myth of Narcissus and Echo is simultaneously a metaphor of the colonial past and a metaphor of the politics of representation, in the present, introducing the black body into the white space of the image, with references to the white space of the gallery and museum (White Cube), marked by the historical absence of the black body.


Rita Fabiana
Curator of the Museum

Curators’ Choices

Over the next months, the curators of the Modern Collection will reflect on a selection of works, which include creations by national and international artists.

More choices