O Barco / The Boat
For this large-scale sculpture installation, and just like in all her other works, Grada Kilomba uses writing as her starting point, to which she then lends shape, image, movement and voice.
For O Barco / The Boat, Grada Kilomba wrote a poem that rests on 18 blocks of burnt wood, engraved and translated into several African languages: from Yoruba, to Kimbundu, to Creole and Setswana; as well as Portuguese, English and Arabic.
This poem is also at the core of the performance that will inaugurate this work. With music production by Kalaf Epalanga, the poem becomes a melody, a wail and a recitation interrupting the collective imagery.
Thus, Grada Kilomba works with the themes of memory and oblivion, the conscious and the unconscious, the visible and the invisible, inviting the participation of a corps of voices and dancers from African diaspora communities, who become the centre of a silenced history – remembering and paying homage to the millions of African people who were enslaved and transported at the bottom of ships.
In this way, Kilomba creates a performance around the concept of ceremony and ritual: “A ceremony has the performative ability to reconstruct the past appropriately, and in each gesture, image and sound, it is able to produce the memory that was often denied and erased; it is only through memory that one can deal with the trauma and the violence of collective oblivion,” the artist explains.
By creating poetic and sublimely intense images, accompanied by the sound of a body of voices, and highlighted by solos from a soprano and a dancer, Grada Kilomba, together with Kalaf Epalanga’s music composition, reconstructs a choreographic ritual that roams between a procession, a lament and a reinvention.