Life’s Reproduction Policies or a Theorem dedicated to the expansion movements with A Mecânica do Efémero
This piece is like a clock. A solar clock. It moves according to time and light. The information is a useful spark for a continuous movement of liberation-germination, inspired by the exhibition A Mecânica do Efémero at Galeria Filomena Soares, Lisbon.
The gallery in Marvila has six Angolan artists – Flávio Cardoso, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Damara Inglês, Délio Jasse, Rui Magalhães and Sofia Yala Rodrigues. Dedicated to self-reflexive art, “where imagination is an important ally of historical and socio-political issues”, the artists speak about problems of colonialism, but not only. That past haunts us as “an unfinished European fantasy”, as Gisela Casamiro writes in the exhibition leaflet. It embraces contemporaneity in cunning, charming and elegant capture devices. Ahhhh, desire! Take care of yours because it’s for sale.
Going from I to XII, let’s start:
I. As a prologue-warming-evocation, before I even drew these thoughts, I wrote down, word for word, the ten suggestions for an ongoing decolonization of the unconscious by philosopher and psychoanalyst Suely Rolnik in her latest book The Spheres of Insurrection: Suggestions for Combating the Pimping of Life. Then I opened a random page of the book and transcribed an underlined passage from the introduction written by Paul B. Preciado: “Revolution is not only the appropriation of the means of production but includes and is based on a re-appropriation of the means of reproduction – re-appropriation of the “knowledge-of-the-body”, sexuality, affections, language, imagination and desire. The authentic factory is the unconscious and the most intense and crucial battle takes place in the micropolitics.”[i]
II. The photographic work Éden by Rui Magalhães, used to announce the exhibition, depicts a kind of portal. a) The upper fraction of the portico is not aligned with the centre of the two columns that support it. b) Two acephalous giraffes adorn the entrance. c) The reproduction of this image on a flyer is on my work desk, next to a note that has lost its source: “How can there be sadness in paradise?”
III. “A bridge to the future” – the slogan of the PMDB party programme of former president Michel Temer in 2016, in Brazil, after Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment. That was the quote that popped into my mind when I saw Flávio Cardoso’s photos: the first documents a concrete bridge, with no entrance or exit; the second is a tree resting on the ground, drawing an arch between its root and foliage. Then these words opened my thoughts: abyss, incoherence and senselessness.
IV. Something about freedom, light and a true north: “All sun clocks must be aligned with the Earth’s axis of rotation to produce a correct and accurate time. Most clocks need to be pointed to true north (rather than magnetic north); that is, the horizontal angle must be equal to the geographical latitude of the position where the sun clock is located. Given the natural tilt of the axis of rotation and the Earth’s elliptical shape, there is no fixed sun clock orientation capable of maintaining a constant geometric affinity to the Sun throughout the year. Therefore, a functional sun clock should not be constructed in a totally fixed way to show the correct time during all periods of the year. A sun clock built as a function of a specific place will show only the apparent time of that exact point, only in line with places on the same meridian.”[ii]
V. bell hooks passed away on 15 December 2021. An African-American writer, teacher and intellectual with a unique legacy. I highlight here the Teaching Trilogy: Teaching to transgress, Teaching critical thinking: practical wisdom, Teaching community: a pedagogy of hope.
VI. Artist Damara Inglis disobeys “colonial and neoliberal subjective extractivism” by asserting the beauty of optimism embellished by Afrofuturism in a multimedia installation. With a Snapchat filter, the artist’s female body becomes a transcendental character amidst other non-human bodies, all in the work Kazumbi.
VII. The article: A Um saudável incómodo: Grada Kilomba by Vitor Belanciano in Ípsilon[iii].
VIII. We’ve been talking a lot about catastrophic, dystopian imagery. Kiluanji Kia Henda exhibits his black and white print version. The 2013-2021 photographic series Ópera da Distopia documents an abandoned amusement park in the 1990s. A singular representation of fun and pleasure as the privilege of the few. It’s ironic to talk about dystopia from reality, isn’t it?
IX. I write these words with the computer placed on top of four books, attempting to sustain an upright posture. The books: Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; Soren Kierkegaard’s Either/Or, Gonçalo M. Tavares’ Atlas of Body and Imagination. One irony more: a Brazilian who supports her column, be it vertebral or abstractionist, with Eurocentric theories.
X. In the work Type Here to Search, 2020, Sofia Yala uses a collage of photographs from her family archive to recontextualize and create new narratives of a past that is in her baggage. Délio Jasse, in Untitled (da série A última barreira), 2021, uses a similar approach to create graphic images in composition with fragments of a catalogued history. In this case, Jasse works with the archive of an Angolan memory. In the artist’s words, “We are unaware of our own history, because it is told by others, despite having been lived by us.” In a similar approach, from the private to the collective, the two artists call for the transformation of sensitivity and representation, inventing in each case the necessary protocols that allow renaming, feeling and perceiving the world.
XI. Number 6 of Suely Rolnik’s suggestions for the decolonisation of the unconscious: “Not to give in to the will to preserve the forms of existence, nor to the pressure that this exerts on the potency of life, on its inclination to produce a difference. On the contrary, one must seek sustenance in the fragile thread of this unstable state, until the creative imagination builds a body-expression mode which, by being the bearer of the pulse of the strange-familiar, can update the virtual world proclaimed by experience, allowing the agonising forms to finally die”.[iv]
XII. The song Quiet Temple by Mal Waldron in Le Nuits de La Negritude, recorded in 1963. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdQkSGsfrRA
The exhibition A Mecânica do Efémero is at Galeria Filomena Soares, Lisbon, until January 15, 2022.
[i] Rolnik, Suely. (2019). Esferas da Insurreição – Notas para uma vida não cafetinada. Brasil: n-1 edições: p.15
[iv] Rolnik, Suely. (2019). Esferas da Insurreição – Notas para uma vida não cafetinada. Brasil: n-1 edições: p.196