Grada Kilomba is a writer, scholar and interdisciplinary artist active in the Berlin art scene, the city where she lives and works. Born in Lisbon, she has roots in São Tomé and Príncipe and Angola. Her work addresses the issues of gender and race, and the notions of trauma and memory, either in the context of the current debates on colonialism and post-colonialism in the early 21st century, or as a research into the ambiguous relation between memory and forgetting, and the collective memory and identity of Africans and of their diasporas. Evoking African oral traditions and their power to carry on the spoken word, the artist’s work gives voice to silenced narratives with the aim of rewriting and retelling a history that has been suppressed or disregarded.
Using and combining different mediums, Kilomba has been exploring unconventional, experimental and interdisciplinary artistic practices; her performances, video installations, readings and lectures create an interface between text and image, between artistic and academic language. Showing her work for the first time in Portugal, this show starts from the video installation The Desire Project, a piece specially conceived for the 32nd São Paulo Biennial (2016), which is also one of the most recent acquisitions of the EDP Foundation Art Collection. Adapted to the MAAT, the new installation of this piece is accompanied by a video version of a staged reading of Kilomba’s book Plantation Memories, published in 2008, and by Kosmos2, Labor #10: Video Installation, one of a series of debates the artist has been hosting at the Maxim Gorki Theatre, in Berlin, featuring “refugee” artists who explore original and subversive ways of producing new work.