The Aesthetics of Liberation: Southern Africa in Contemporary Artistic Practices from Mozambique, South Africa, Angola, and Portugal

This paper will explore the ways in which artistic practices have been revisiting histories and memories of anti-colonial struggle, revolution, decolonization, and post-independence nation building in Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Portugal, with apartheid South Africa and the global Cold War as background. The cartography drawn here follows the histories and geographies of anti-colonial and anti-apartheid friendship, while not losing sight of several forms of imperialism, old and new. It thus necessarily extends beyond Portuguese-speaking countries, while also putting the very term ‘lusophone’ into critical perspective. Through the lens of very distinct but deeply relatable works by Ângela Ferreira, Filipa César, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Jo Ractliffe, Daniel Barroca, and Délio Jasse, this paper will examine the archival and historiographical potential, in the globalized present, inherent to the remembrance of histories of decolonization by means of installation, video, photography and performance for the camera. What sort of insights do the archival imaginations of pasts, presents and futures at play in these works offer, and how far can the ethics and politics of their aesthetics go?

About the Author

Ana Balona de Oliveira (PhD, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, 2012) is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Comparative Studies of the University of Lisbon and at the Institute for Art History of the New University of Lisbon and a Visiting Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, where she wrote her doctoral thesis on the artwork of the Portuguese and South African artist Ângela Ferreira (b. Maputo, Mozambique, 1958) and notions of displacement, hybridity and unhomeliness. She is researching narratives of empire, anti- and post-colonialism, migration and globalization in contemporary art from ‘Lusophone’ spaces and beyond. Ana received doctoral and postdoctoral grants from the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT, Portugal). She lectured in several institutions in the United Kingdom and Portugal and published in Third Text, Mute, Fillip, Aniki, among others. She coordinates the research line ‘Visual Culture, Migration and Globalization’ at the Centre for Comparative Studies (CEC-CITCOM-Dislocating Europe) and is a member of the research group ‘Contemporary Art Studies’ at the Institute for Art History (IHA-CASt). She has recently curated the solo exhibition ‘Ângela Ferreira: Monuments in Reverse’ at the CAAA Centro para os Assuntos de Arte e Arquitectura in Guimarães, Portugal.


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