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No.One.Gives.A.Mosquito’s. Ass.About.Trabalho.De.Preto

A Nástio Mosquito’s recipe

“What was your last experience of ‘black labour’?”

The question is asked by Nástio Mosquito in his most recent exhibition No.One.Gives.A.Mosquito’s.Ass.About.Trabalho.De.Preto, a collaborative and multidisciplinary project that gathers several individuals in the dissection and reframing of the expression “black labour”.

The exhibition at Hangar, in Lisbon, follows the work No.One.Gives.A.Mosquito’s.Ass.About.Us, which began in March 2019 with several performances at the opening of the 58th Venice Biennale. This project, expanded in time and space, proposes a vast reflection on different power structures exercised over the individual and the collective. It also questions the nature of what really concerns us and mobilizes us. Each iteration has a distinct form and focuses on themes related to its particular context. The artist has explored the plastic and political potentialities of verbal, musical and visual language united in the immersive installation at Hangar.

Entering the exhibition space requires an immediate adaptation of the senses. One sees little at first. The space is illuminated only by a few globes of black light and by the flashlight that is given to us at the entrance, allowing us to open the way in the darkness. Each visitor also receives headphones to listen to the nine soundscapes that give body to the exhibition. Like a thought, intertwined voices are heard, ideas and emotions are associated in a non-linear way, in a dense and rhythmic register, reflective and assertive; diaristic and pamphleteering. Testimonies and manifestos follow a stream of consciousness rhythm.

The eyes are adapted to the murkiness and identify several books near each globe of black light; an extensive mural is on the wall. The titles of the publications seem to point to paths of liberation: Remédios Literários; Diderot e a Arte de Pensar Livremente; Modos de Ver; Espreita: Computadores e Programação; Desobedecer. But the darkness makes it difficult to read the passages. They are barriers to access knowledge, obstacles to the desire for cultural and social emancipation. “The danger is to demand”, we hear. “I have no natural tools to discern”.

The text heard is by Nástio Mosquito, the musical arrangement is by André Pinheiro, the never-before-heard music is by B-Fachada. The selection of books is made by Ler Devagar; the mural, which establishes relationships between various exploitation systems, was created by André Carrilho and executed by the RAPS_4AC team. These names are not accessories or adjuvants: Mosquito says that this “recipe” is made through the expressions of “different black people”, with several starting and escaping points.

The expression “black labour”, pejorative, racist and slave-related, is digested and retaken as a term aggregator. Precariousness, discrimination, oppression, exploitation are mechanisms of the same power system. More than raising questions of identity, Mosquito wants to underline the relationships of interdependence and promote encounters in the plurality of the contemporary world. And he poses the following question to “all blonde blacks, dark blacks, achromatic blacks, social media blacks, blacks with supposed representativity”:

“What was your last experience of ‘black labour’?”

No.One.Gives.A.Mosquito’s.Ass.About.Trabalho.De.Preto runs until 15 February, at Hangar, Lisboa.

Joana Valsassina is a Portuguese curator, writer, and cultural producer based in Lisbon. Working as an independent curator and the co-curator of The Art Gate artspace in Lisbon, Joana has previously worked at MoMA and at the Drawing Center, in New York; and at MAAT, in Lisbon. Joana holds a master in Museum Studies from NYU and a master in Architecture from the University of Lisbon. Besides developing her curatorial practice, she writes regularly for Umbigo Magazine and produces the Lisbon-based arts iniciatives Bairro das Artes and Mapa das Artes.

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