Sights and Sounds: Angola

May 29 - June 26, 2014

Sights and Sounds: Angola features new work by Binelde Hyrcan, Paulo Azevedo, Angel Ihosvanny Cisneros Felicidade, and Iris Buchholz Chocolate, selected by Suzana Souza.

Installation view of Sights and Sounds: Global Film and Video in the Goodkind Media Center. Photo by David Heald.

The four artists whose work is featured in this exhibition – Binelde Hyrcan, Paulo Azevedo, Angel Ihosvanny Cisneros Felicidade, and Iris Buchholz Chocolate – blend imagination and history, revealing new narratives as they reinterpret Angolan stories. These four artists share a willingness to question, reflect upon, and tell stories from Angola, a young country, independent since 1975. Their videos are global in their use of language and visual elements. However, their storytelling is complicated by the way they present their subjects: more often than not, we find historical moments and cultural details reinterpreted, rather than presented in a natural way.

In some cases, only fragments of the real world are visible: the city walls of Luanda, for instance, as they appear in Ihosvanny’s Noise, or the partial view of Carnival and its traditions as seen in the slow-motion gestures of dancers in Azevedo’s work. Without the music and background crowds, the subject would be unrecognizable. Meanwhile, Chocolate offers her own poetic reading of the country by immersing herself in the local culture, past and present. And Hyrcan engages the viewer through the fantasy life of kids. For these artists, imagination and history connect and construct meaning, allowing the viewer to discover new narratives in otherwise known stories.

Suzana Sousa
Curator

Suzana Sousa (b. Luanda, 1981) has a Master of Arts in postcolonial cultures and global policy at Goldsmiths College, University of London. An independent curator, she has worked in Angola since 2003.

Video

Cambeck features a group of boys playing in a make-believe car in and around the beach in Luanda. Their banter is reminiscent of estiga, local slang for adult trash talk. Their mocking conversations pick up on local expression as filtered through children, demonstrating how humor is born from necessity. 

Inspired by Douglas Gordon, a contemporary artist whose 24 Hour Psycho famously presented the classic Hitchcock film screened at a glacial pace, Azevedo slows down the movements of kazukuta dancers. Kazukuta, a dance related to Carnival (Mardi Gras) in Luanda, is historically linked to colonialism, since it was one of the few cultural public practices allowed under Portuguese rule. For this reason it was used as a form of resistance in which colonialists and their relationship to native people were humorously caricatured.

This video uses images and details of the artist’s mural paintings, layering and juxtaposing them with found images from Luanda. It evokes visual noise as much as the sounds the city.

A baobab tree stands at sunset. A woman dances, clothed in sponges; as she moves, water sprays about her. The sponges evoke the baobab’s ability to absorb and expel water, a metaphor for artistic appropriation and reproduction, and for the way knowledge is shared. The tree itself stands as a symbol of knowledge and ancestral wisdom. 

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