Johannesburg based curator Lara Koseff brings to Porto a screening featuring established and emerging video artists from Africa.
In sections of Johannesburg, on electrical boxes and city walls, are pasted flyers simply saying LOST LOVER, in bold blue or red text. They are strangely beautiful, both because of their simplicity, but also the complexity of their evocation. The two simple words are rarer and less candid than similar flyers offering abortion, genital enlargement and debt resolution, and, when on their own, can provide a sensation of poetry on the streets of a hard city. They suggest that amongst our basic needs, is the fulfilment of desire, of love, of yearning, whether lost or taken away. They also suggest that on a very base level, what makes us human, what defines our humanity is the longing for a different reality.
LOST LOVER, first presented at Lanchonete<>Lanchonete project space, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is a video program exploring this allegory of longing – whether it is for a reclaimed or new romantic, political or social reality. It took place in the street outside this project space, which is situated in an old snack bar in Gamboa, a part of the city where historically slaves arrived from Africa, and many years later, in recent history, was intensively and thoughtlessly gentrified to serve visitors coming to see major sporting events. This is within an area where communities were brutally traded, and oppressed, and their decedents, in turn, marginalized and ignored in favor of holidaymakers and moneyed cliques. To these communities, was presented a program in image, music and light that illuminates various strains of longing, offering different and new realities that were lost along the way, from across the Atlantic, and suggesting the need for new routes of reclamation.
The exhibition is now travelling to a very different yet connected context – Portugal, the country that played a central role in the Atlantic Slave Trade, and has an interweaved and complex connection to both Brazil and Africa. Rampa is a newly opened alternative space, located in Pátio do Bolhão in downtown Porto. Named after the long ramp that leads visitors into a half-basement warehouse, Rampa's aim is relooking at old bridges between Porto and the world, and finding and reclaiming new paths of understanding between this and other cities.
In addition to a screening of the original program is a dedicated video installation by Grada Kilomba, titled Illusions Vol. II, Oedipus (2018), which was commissioned by the 10th Berlin Biennale and is the second part of her Illusions series, which revisits Greek mythology using the African oral tradition of storytelling. In Illusions Vol. II, Oedipus, Thulile Gamedze writes, Kilomba "extends the trajectory of her Illusions series – which began in 2016 with the story of Narcissus and Echo – by presenting an iteration dedicated to the myth of Oedipus, which explores the fatal tensions between a father and son doomed to tragedy. Using film and music combined with oral storytelling traditions, Kilomba uses the topics of loyalty and the politics of violence to consider the role that destiny can play for those embedded within a system of reproductive and cyclical oppression."