Goodman Gallery is pleased to present Grada Kilomba’s online exhibition Heroines, Birds and Monsters. The exhibition includes Kilomba’s new series of photographic works in which the artist carefully captures the complexity of the characters from her trilogy of films A World of Illusions. In dialogue with the photographs is the final installment of the trilogy, Illusions. Vol. III, Antigone (2019), which will be shown for the first time online.
The exhibition Heroines, Birds and Monsters is a continuation of the artist’s urgent questioning of the power structures implicit in the writing of history. Throughout the show, Kilomba asks 'What if history has not been told properly? And what if our history is haunted by cyclical violence precisely because it has not been buried properly?'
In A World of Illusions (2019), Kilomba restages three Greek myths [Narcissus, Oedipus and Antigone], using storytelling, choreography and performance as a way in which to explore memory, trauma and the post-colonial condition. The trilogy is displayed in a triangular installation, at the centre of the gallery room, creating an immersive space of storytelling.
For the prints, Heroines, Birds and Monsters (2020), says Kilomba, 'I wanted to capture the women characters [in these performances] negotiating this complex history of cyclical violence and oppression… they embody the heroines, the birds and the monsters. The sculptural moments reveal the intensity of this negotiation.'
In Illusions Vol. III, Antigone (2019), Kilomba considers how we treat the wounds of history. Antigone’s determination to give her brother a proper burial is used by Kilomba to embody the importance of properly acknowledging past atrocities even if it means fighting against violent systems of oppression, which do not allow for it.
Critical to conveying this message is Kilomba’s position as the narrator of these films. Adopting this persona, as captured in the work Storyteller#1, Kilomba takes on the role of a griot, an African historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet, or musician. 'The griot works like a human archive,' says Kilomba. 'They remind us of history and are able to revise history through music and the performance of voice, as the bringers of that knowledge.'
As a storyteller, Kilomba seeks to excavate often painful moments from history. 'It’s about going to that place when history has not been told properly and doing a dignified burial. This burial comes in different moments of the work and is mimicked from one work to another (as in her installation Table of Goods (2017). It develops also and eventually disappears. And from that, there appears something new.'
Grada Kilomba (b. 1968, Lisbon, Portugal) is an interdisciplinary artist, whose work interrogates concepts of knowledge, power and violence.
'What stories are told? How are they told? And told by whom?' are constant questions in Kilomba’s body of work, to revise post-colonial narratives. With a singular beauty, Kilomba subversively translates text into image, movement and installation, by giving body, voice and form to her own critical writings.
Performance, staged reading, video, photography and installation are a platform for her unique practice of storytelling, which intentionally disrupts the proverbial ‘white cube’ through a new and urgent decolonial language and imagery.
Her work has been presented in major international events such as: La Biennale de Lubumbashi VI; 10. Berlin Biennale; Documenta 14, Kassel; 32. Bienal de São Paulo. Selected solo and group exhibitions include the Pinacoteca de São Paulo; Bildmuseet, Umeå; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; The Power Plant, Toronto; Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin; MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon; Secession Museum, Vienna; Bozar Museum, Brussels; PAC- Pavillion Art Contemporanea, Milan.
Her work features in public and private collections worldwide, including the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, and MAAT — Museum of Art, Artchitecture and Technology.
Kilomba holds a distinguished Doctorate in Philosophy from the Freie Universität Berlin. She has lectured at several international universities, and was a Professor at the Humboldt Universität Berlin, Department of Gender Studies.
Among others, she is the author of the acclaimed Plantation Memories (Unrast, 2008) a compilation of episodes of everyday racism written in the form of short psychoanalytical stories. Her book has been translated into several languages, and was listed as the most important non-fiction literature in Brazil, 2019
Press release courtesy Goodman Gallery.