Jahmek Contemporary Art, Luanda, Angola 28 Feb 2019 - 01 Jun 2019
Kiluanji Kia Henda catches us by the hand and shows us Luanda by a lens that forces us to a new look, which leads us to re-situate ourselves in a space that is simultaneously familiar and strange. The lens is similar to what in literature is called the omniscient teller, in a purposely simplified way the one who knows the story, because he looks at a past-present. A Luanda that translate, which has been translating in the last 15 years. A translation that we all see with some hope but that we all live with the displeasure of knowing, even if not always in the desire of seeing, their mechanisms of exclusion and privilege, their remains, human and non-human.
The series of Concrete Bluesimages forces us to look at the façades and the people, or vice versa, of a city that has been lost in the alienated dreams of politics, and as this carries the elements that compose the political speech, from the religious iconography that so Skillfully the history has known to speak about a man without necessarily engaging man, in the artist words‘ jungle of concrete, hearts of stone’. The elements that leads us to religious, more obvious in the fabric of Chaos, Bodies and Concrete, are repeated in others as the Fish, The Wide Open Arms of Christ or the Street Cleaner, the Beam of Light or it will be brooms, the Saleswoman who fills city streets with colors and sounds . The artist steals the dignity with which the Catholic saints are presented to share it with the men and women who inhabit our daily life by offering their colors, lights and products a central place. It does not romanticize the characters, by the contrary, it turn visible the way their space is conquered despite of the growing concrete and some invisible barbed wire.
Concrete Blues is an essay about Post-independence policies, on the forgotten speeches of the New Man. Or perhaps on the New Man victim of the speeches that confine him to an empty idea, forced to inhabit in the remains of buildings in city center and then evicted and rehoused in Sapu or Zango 8000 in non-places that are just bodies deposits. The anonymous citizen in a contractor level who had no rights could be forced to work, to move, to be enslaved in favor of a civilization that by definition excludes him. But what about faith? It always have carried the body even when the soul begged for rest, carried the arms for work when life is destroyed by distant superior orders as the laws that claim to protect the anonymous citizen, the equals before the law.
The work of Kiluanji Kia Henda follows closely and in a critical way Angola’s history and realizes in Concrete Blues the continuous line of this logic. It is possible to make a counterpoint with the New Man, in particular the serie redefining the power, and questioning the logic of power in a post-colonial society like ours. All in all, the lens is always the one after Post-independence, a perspective that blames its actores and not a past that victimizes us. In Concrete Bluesthe artist seems to disassemble the idea of Luanda Pop, the romanticized construction of a cosmopolitan city, assimilated and with a voice. Here the space compartmentalization wich concrete requires exposes many voices, many pains, and not just the growing pains. For a bird eye’s view or omniscient view, exposes us as accomplices and its ruthless in reading daily life that hides and confines so many others like us, exposes Luanda as a wicked project of exclusion, the primitive accumulation of capital wich cost a blink of the eye.