“O Barco”: the new installation that recalls the slavery of the Portuguese discoveries


“O Barco”: the new installation that recalls the slavery of the Portuguese discoveries

It has 32 meters and was inaugurated this Friday with the MAAT in Lisbon. It is the work of the artist Grada Kilomba.

It opened on September 3rd.

If you pass the MAAT in the Belém district of Lisbon by October 17, you will find 140 dark blocks that form the silhouette of the bottom of a ship. It is a new artistic installation “O Barco / The Boat” that opened this Friday, September 3rd.

It is a project by the Portuguese capital born artist Grada Kilomba with roots in Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe. It is a commission and a production of the BoCA – Biennial of Contemporary Arts in collaboration with the Lisbon Museum.

These blocks “carefully shape the space created to contain the bodies of millions of Africans enslaved by European empires. In Western imagination, a boat is easily associated with fame, freedom and maritime expansion, which are described as “discovery”, but in the artist’s view, “a continent of millions of people cannot be discovered” nor “one of the longest and most most terrible “. Chapters of humanity – slavery – can be erased, ”describes the MAAT.

“This first large-format installation by Grada Kilomba, which extends over a length of 32 meters along the Tagus, invites the audience to enter a garden of remembrance, in which poems rest on burnt wooden blocks and recall forgotten stories and identities. What stories are being told? Where are they counted? How are they counted? And told by whom? These are questions that arise when entering this installation, ”adds MAAT to this piece, which is also part of the cultural program of the Lisboa na Rua city council.

The work opens with a three-act performance of Grada Kilomba, in which several generations of Afro-descended communities are the main performers. It has a music production by Kalaf Epalanga, a writer and musician belonging to Buraka Som Sistema. Find out about the dates and times of the performances on the MAAT website.

Click on the gallery to see more pictures of “O Barco / The Boat”.