The exhibition Mirages and Deep Time at Galerias Municipais—Galeria Avenida da Índia features new transdisciplinary and multimedia work including sculpture, film, photography, and woven silk on photographic surfaces by Mónica de Miranda, whose research-informed practice delves into the ways that politics, identity, gender, memory and place are shaped by the convergence of geographies, urban archaeology, deep time and artistic strategies of subversion into post-colonial narratives.
Curated by Azu Nwagbogu, Mirages and Deep Time encompasses the problems with de-colonial tropes, it is a continuous and unmitigated search, requiring hyper-vigilance and suggesting an understanding of the limits of learned history. The exhibition gives space to the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of the reframing of Black history and identity in Portuguese history. It also propels the conversation towards nature and new forms of knowledge with which to approach the greatest challenge of the contemporary world in relation to climate change in the Anthropocene era.
The photographic works explore various relationships between femininity, nature and histories forgotten by a hegemonic system. Presenting a counter narrative of colonial and patriarchal history, the works raise important questions of belonging and identity construction in our contemporary era. The sculptures on display, covered by earth and plants, explore the metaphor of the island. The artist considers the land or territory as a container of memory, history, a kind of reciprocity between present, past and future. The earth holds within it both time and space, seen as a subject that is ever-changing, that is far from static.
Mirages and Deep Time creates a broader temporality, beyond the anthropocentric notion of time. From this perspective, the natural and cosmic elements—such as the stars and mountains—are neither static nor passive but move and have agency. These different temporalities create nomads incommensurable with each other: as the main character states there are no worlds; we are worlds.
Mónica de Miranda’s visual narrative for this exhibition also revolves around a central motif: the mirror. Through the film and a series of photographs, Miranda uses the mirror as a structuring device that allows her to explore, in all their complexity and multiplicity, ideas of identity (self and otherness) and history (past, present and potential future). Miranda uses the mirror as a devise to subvert its illusory meaning. There is a suggestion to look away and a refusal to allow for a history told by the so-called dominant powers. The mirror becomes an agent to embody archetypal imaginations. There is power in the gaze, as bell hooks stated; in fact, for Mónica de Miranda, the gaze in the rebel mirror is a strategy for looking and being looked at, with an agency of belonging, freedom and resistance.
For the seeker, there are obvious fundamentals that need upending: the one thread that runs through one nation to the next is the global history of colonization. The image of the thirsty traveler lost in a desert who sees water reflected in the sand that is not there refers to the unreliability of the senses when desperation has locked in, but humanity has shaped futures through imagination. How do we emerge into a new timeline with an imagination shaped not from desperation but from freedom? In the natural sciences, Werner Heisenberg’s ´Uncertainty Principle` establishes the delimitations of subatomic particles with regards to position and momentum. And in contemporary culture understanding the scope and meaning of decolonization in an increasingly globalized world can be intangible and sometimes impossible to grasp.