Venice Biennale 2019
Artist Announced for the National Pavilion of Mozambique
The National Pavilion of Mozambique aims to show, through a contemporary perspective, the troubled past of the nation and its influences in today’s society. Working with different mediums, Gonçalo Mabunda, Mauro Pinto and Filipe Branquinho, bring to this exhibition a dialogical conversation on violence, corruption and social injustice.
Presented for the first time in 2015 at the 56th Venice Biennale, the National Pavilion of Mozambique finds its home again for the 58th International Art Exhibition.
The Past, The Present and The in Between, curated by Lidija Kostic Khachatourian, aims to show through a contemporary approach the troubled past of the nation of Mozambique and its consequences in today’s society.
Grew up in a post-colonial period during which the country was engulfed in a long civil war, the artists Gonçalo Mabunda, Mauro Pinto, and Filipe Branquinho investigate contemporary politics and popular culture, underpinned by a poetic and sometimes humorous accent. Attentive to what happens around them, particularly to the deeper dimensions of the human experience, their work speaks to our most empathic feelings.
Compared to other African countries, the Mozambican Republic gained independence only recently, in 1975, after ten years of insurrection against the Portuguese, which was swiftly followed by a 16-year-long civil war. During this time, artistic production had been heavily influenced by the political situation of the state and tied to the creation of a national identity. The independence of Mozambique heralded a new era for art and artists, who began questioning their role in a new nation lacking basic human rights following the end of colonialism. This historical experience is represented through artistic research that bears witness to the impact of the past on the present.
Curator Lidija Kostic Khachatourian can typically be found traversing the globe, seeking emerging talent at art events and art hubs that span the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. With a special focus in African Contemporary Art, she has been producing shows and exhibitions in Dubai since 2014, and also works as international artist representative, art consultant and exhibition organiser.
About the artists:
Gonçalo Mabunda is interested in the collective memory of his country, which has only recently emerged from a long civil war. Mabunda works with weapons recovered in 1992 at the end of the sixteen-year conflict that divided the region, creating objects of beauty from instruments of death – land mines, Kalashnikovs, rocket launchers, pistols, rifles, bombs and grenades – which he warps and welds to create vivid sculptures such as thrones, prehistoric animals with giant wings and legs, and anthropomorphic robots of the most diverse expressions and characteristics.
While the deactivated weapons of war carry strong political connotations, the beautiful objects he creates simultaneously convey a positive reflection on the transformative power of art and the resilience and creativity of African civilian societies. Mabunda is best known for his “thrones,” which, according to the artist, function as attributes of power, tribal symbols and traditional pieces of ethnic African art. They are an ironic commentary on his childhood experience of violence and absurdity amidst the long civil war that isolated his country.
Mauro Pinto investigates visual creation, information and communication systems in his work, often through a clever play of provocative contrasts. Through his lens, the artist celebrates the everyday world surrounding him, with an extraordinary ability to catch the stillness of space. Through his portraits, he tries to escape “false” dramas and capture reality through a search for meaning over time. “BlackMoney” is a photographic series set in the small locality of Moatize, in the Tete province of Mozambique, and documents a complex study of the role of coal, a mineral in high demand in global markets attracting significant investment in Mozambique that is barely visible in the living and working conditions of the local people directly affected by its extraction. It is in this context that this work observes and analyzes the socioeconomic impact of this activity, describing “the eternal duality of humans and nature, of governments and governed, conflicts and complicities as a result of greed and corruption. In every stare the resilience and basic survival the only light source for the sadness and darkness.” Mauro Pinto has participated in several solo and group exhibitions throughout Africa and Europe.
Filipe Branquinho, best known for his photography, also produces paintings and drawings. Born in 1977, he was raised in an environment closely connected to Maputo’s journalistic and artistic spheres. Branquinho’s aesthetic combines familiarity with architecture and the “school” of the Mozambican photography, fusing genres like portrait and landscape. Raised among big names of Mozambican photography such as Ricardo Rangel, Kok Nam and José Cabral,he focuses on social issues related to the contemporary reality of Mozambique, investigating its folkways, mythology and urban dynamics. In his practice, Branquinho explores topics such as class differences, the role of politics, and collective memory. His large format portraits are individual, but they are also the “survey” or the inventory of social spaces and architectures, telling personal stories to outline a documentary map of a changing African world. In several photographic projects, he proposes a reading of the current reality of Mozambique, between memories and the present, current national affairs and tradition. In the series “Lipiko”, in which he uses Mapiko masks of the Maconde tradition, he associates drawing and photography with a strong sense of satire to propose a reflection on aspects and values of contemporary national affairs. From the colonial period to post-socialism, Mapiko’s performance, a traditional initiation rite, enables the expression of an invisible magic world but also of social criticisms and staged identities. These Mapiko masks can be, traditionally, caricatures of characters of a magical (imaginary) world or of real persons known from the community or region.
Pre-Opening: May 9-10, 2019
Palazzo Mora, Strada Nuova 3659, 30121 Venezia
Curator: Lidija Kostic Khachatourian
The National Pavilion of Mozambique is commissioned by Hon. Silva Armando Dunduru, Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Mozambique, and appointed Commissioner Domingos do Rosário Artur, permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Mozambique, and is supported and sponsored by Africa Legal Network, Abu Dhabi Securities
and Akka Project.