Echos of the South Atlantic
The collective exhibition, part of the program of the homonymous conference organized by the Goethe Institute in Salvador, Bahia, brings together videos, photographs, objects, silkscreens, sound sculptures, posters and performances by an international group of 15 artists who, through their works, comment on the complex relations between the countries that make up the South Atlantic.
Each artist composes a sort of “alternative history” that defies collective historiography. In their works, the artists examine exchanges, investigate relations, and dilute geographic locations, highlighting how they resonate in the present moment. The individual perspectives, implicit in their imagery, sounds, documents, traces, instruments, and works, echo colonial and post-colonial histories, the diasporas, global migrations and transcultural processes.
Akinbode Akinbiyi participates with a series of six images from his work “Passageways, Narratives Involuntary, and theSound of Crowded Spaces,” exhibited for the first time at Documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel. The sequence of images produced in Kassel, Lagos, and Osogbo is exhibited on a fence, allowing the artist to create a visual cadence, conceived specifically for this exhibition.
Resident of the Vila Sul program, Ana Hupe presents a research project in progress about returnees, a part of an archive that addresses the fluidity of space and the development of identities. In the show, she focuses on two characters, an African woman from Lagos who lives in Salvador, and a Brazilian, who emigrated to the same city in Nigeria. The two stories are mirrored, one resonating with the other.
"When we walk on earth, we are stepping on the body of a woman.” This phrase, present in a video that begins the performance “Tupi-Valongo-Cemitério dos Pretos Novos e Velhos Índios” (Tupi-Valongo-Cemitery of the New Blacks And Old Indians”), by Anita Ekman, offers clues in the artistic-cultural approach of the paulista | © Taylla de Paula In the performance “Tupi-Valongo/Cemitério dos Pretos Novos e Velhos Índios” ("Tupi-Valongo/Cemetery of the New Blacks and Old Indians”), Anita Ekman revives the technology of ceramic stamps, developed by the Sambaquieiro, stamping actor Hugo Germano’s skin through the overlaying of projected images of the Pretos Novos Cemetery in Rio de Janeiro. The scene combines diverse elements to inquire about Afro-indigenous Brazilian identity.
“Trabuco” is the name of the work by Antôno Társis, inspired by his wanderings through the streets of Salvador’s old city center, where he finds used bullet shells. He uses the shells along with test tubes, gun powder and other materials used in old armaments, particularly from the colonial past. Past and present are part of the composition of objects that expose a colonial violence that is still present in Salvador.
Ayrson Heráclito participates with the diptych video “O Sacudimento: a reunião das Margens Atlânticas” (“The Shake: The Reunion of the Atlantic Margins”) exhibited at the 57th Venice Biennial. In this work, the artist exhibits two recordings of spirit cleansing rituals from the period of slavery, enacted through performance at the Maison des Esclaves, on Gorée Island, Senegal, and at the Casa da Torre de Garcia d’Ávila, in Mata de São João, Bahia.
Camila Sposati exhibits the documental video “Reading Rugendas Lundu (how and what for),” in which she discusses matters regarding the body, space, negotiations and colonial relations, taking as a point of departure illustrations by Rugendas in 1835. Through conversations with dancers, musicians and theorists, she brings to light perspectives on colonial images and their effects. In addition, she shows how instruments and musical traditions present in colonial imagery pervade our relationships and actions today.
Carol Barreto participates with her work “Coleção Asè” (“Asè Collection”), which relates fashion to political activism. The performance is in collaboration with Val Souza, and includes the participation of the Grupo Rum Alagbè from the Terreiro do Gantois, and the projection of a video from Edgar Azevedo and Helemozão.
Featured highlights are artisanal pieces inspired by the rich traditional textile technique of the Northeast of Brazil, transformed into tools of anti-racist struggle.
Based on the experimental performances of “Salve Exú Motoboy” ("Hail Exú Motoboy”), an artistic process that involves fashion, photography, videos and street performance, in which the contemporary figure of the motoboy is crossed with the archetypes of religions of African origin, Cássio Bomfim proposes a participatory performance with his archival collection, in which he presents the possibilities of “embodiment imagery.”
In his sound installation “Trading Places,” Emeka Ogboh combines recordings of different markets in and around Lagos, importing the soundscape of the vibrant African metropolis, the economic, commercial, entertainment and cultural capital of Nigeria, to Bahia. In Praça do Cacau, these sounds are transformed into an outdoor concert, permeating and intersecting with the sounds of the city of Salvador.
Another participant is Isaac Julien, current resident of the Vila Sul program, who began working with cinema and has, over the past years, turned to the space of visual arts exhibitions, with his audiovisual installations. In his poetic propositions, he addresses issues of gender, sexuality, communication, politics, and diaspora.
Jonathan Dotse, AfroCyberPunk artist, presents “Pandora,” an experimental 360-degree short film shot in Accra, Tema, and Aburi, Ghana, in which the old Greek myth is reimagined in an African context and retold through the possibilities of virtual reality. The narrative takes us on a journey that dislocates time and place, raising questions about the use and access to technologies.
Jota Mombaça participates with the performance “A gente combinamos de não morrer,” (“Us made a deal to not die") using the title that Conceição Evaristo gave to one of her books as a reference to the construction of his activism, in which practices and rituals are a means for surviving necropolitics, a concept introduced by the Cameroonian author Achille Mbembe[DSCHAPoF1] .
Sarojini Lewis produces the performance “Fernanda Romero” and exhibits a series of photographs and texts from the diary of her imaginary character created during her stay in South America (2012-2014). The performance, with a focus on the theme of migration, presents the world from a made-up subjective gaze.
Tatewaki Nio presents an assemblage of four stills from a new series titled “As Pegadas dos Retornados” (“The Footsteps of the Returnees”) produced in Lagos, Nigeria. In it, the artist concentrates on buildings such as churches, housing complexes and commercial buildings in the city, which are owned by former slaves of colonial Brazil who returned to Lagos.
Another work, “Cayendo a la Periferia” ("Falling to the Periphery”), is a collaboration between Ana Milena Garzón (Colombia), Yolanda Chois (Colombia) and Audi Salisu (Ghana), who work for an interinstitutional network of the Global South that researches the effects of colonial narratives. In a series of posters they gather bits of conversations about the topic of contemporary migration.
The works in the exhibition, each in its own way, participate in the process of the (de/re)construction of histories capable of transforming our perception of social, political, economic, and cultural developments of this region. We hope that their echoes also contribute to the revision of dichotomies present in historic narratives, democratization and the decolonization of relations between regions of the South Atlantic.