Grada Kilomba: A World of Illusions

Bildmuseet, Umeå, Sweden
11 Oct 2019 - 08 Mar 2020

Grada Kilomba, Illusions Vol. III, Antigone, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

Grada Kilomba, Illusions Vol. III, Antigone, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

Bildmuseet presents Grada Kilomba’s first solo exhibition in Scandinavia, a trilogy of video installations that use antique dramas to highlight postcolonial issues of racism, gender oppression and violence. The exhibition is the premiere of the third chapter, Antigone, and the three large-scale video works are thereby being exhibited together for the very first time.

In the poetic Illusions trilogy, we find the familiar stories of Narcissus and Echo, Oedipus, and Antigone in new versions. Grada Kilomba reworks the ancient Greek myths and stages them together with actors, combining performance, theatre, choreography, and music. Drawing inspiration from African oral traditions, she takes on the role of a contemporary Griot, a storyteller who lets the classic tales speak directly on the current political issues. The precision of the artistic expression combined with its urgent message make Kilomba one of today’s most interesting artists.

The work Illusions Vol. III, Antigone was produced for Bildmuseet in collaboration with the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin. This new commission is being exhibited together with Illusions Vol. I, Narcissus and Echo, produced for the Bienal de São Paulo 2016, and Illusions Vol. II, Oedipus, which was co-produced by Bildmuseet for the Berlin Biennale in 2018.­

Grada Kilomba (b. 1968, Lisbon) is based in Berlin. Her work has been presented at Documenta 14, Kassel (2017); Berlin Biennale (2018); Bienal de São Paulo (2016); Rauma Biennal Balticum (2016); Pinacoteca de São Paulo; The Power Plant, Toronto; MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; e-flux, New York; WdW Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; Secession Museum, Vienna; Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon; PAC Milano; Bozar Museum, Brussels; SAVYY Contemporary, Berlin; Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin. Kilomba has a doctoral degree in philosophy and has taught at multiple universities, most recently at Humboldt University in Berlin. Her collection of short stories Plantation Memories: Episodes of Everyday Racism (2008) has been printed in 5 editions so far.

The exhibition Grada Kilomba / A World of Illusions was produced by Bildmuseet and curated by director Katarina Pierre. In 2020, it will be supplemented with a publication on the Illusions trilogy, including the scripts of the three pieces, new texts by Paul Goodwin and Gabi Ngcobo and a conversation between Grada Kilomba and Katarina Pierre.

Illusions Vol. III, Antigone (2019), was produced with support from Goethe-Institut Schweden and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Grada Kilomba is represented by the Goodman Gallery.