Grada Kilomba is a Portuguese interdisciplinary artist and writer living in Berlin.
Her work draws on memory, trauma, race, gender, and the ‘post-colonial condition,’ and has been translated into several languages, as well as, presented internationally. She has been featured at renown venues, such as the 32. Bienal de São Paulo 2016, Rauma Biennal Balticum 2016, ArtBasel 2016, ArtFair Cape Town, Transmediale, Secession Museum in Vienna, Bozar Museum in Brussels, Maritime Museum in London, Palace of Arts in Belo Horizonte, Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, Kampnagel in Hamburg, Münchner Kammerspiele in Munich, Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin, Wits Theatre in Johannesburg, among others.
She is best known for her unconventional writing and her ‘subversive use of artistic practices, bringing text into performance, and giving body, voice and image to her own writings’* – using a variety of formats from video installations, to staged readings, to performances, to text collage, and to three dimensional and sound installations. In her work, Kilomba approaches ‘the colonial wound,’ as she says, and intentionally creates a hybrid space between the academic and the artistic languages, to explore new formats to decolonise knowledge and narrative, bringing a new, experimental, and compelling voice into contemporary art and discourse.
In 2011, she was awarded as one of “The Most Inspirational Black Women in Europe” by the BWIE, and in 2013, she was named a “Woman of Excellence” by the Sonne Magazine.
Since 2017, the artist is represented by the acclaimed Goodman Gallery, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
*In the 32. Bienal de São Paulo catalogue, 2016
With origins in São Tomé e Príncipe, Angola and Portugal, Kilomba was born in Lisbon where she studied Clinical Psychology and Psychoanalysis at the ‘Instituto de Psicologia Aplicada.’ There she worked at the psychiatry with war survivors from Angola and Mozambique. Strongly influenced by the work of Frantz Fanon, Kilomba started writing and developing projects on Memory and Trauma, extending her concerns to form, language, performance, and the staging of post-colonial narratives, and later on, she started experimenting with sound, film and video, introducing a performative element to her writings. In 2004, she received a Ph.D. fellowship from the Heinrich Böll Foundation, in Berlin, where she attained a Doctorate in Philosophy from the Freie Universität Berlin 2008.
She is the author of “Plantation Memories” (2008), a compilation of episode of everyday racism written in the form of short psychoanalytical stories, adapted to stage and performance by Kilomba, in 2013, at the Theatre Ballhaus Naunynstrasse, in Berlin; and the co-editor of Mythen, Subjekt, Masken (2005), a pioneer anthology on critical whiteness studies. Her writings have been published at numerous international book anthologies and magazines.
She has been a visiting lecturer at several international universities, including the University of Accra, University of Amsterdam, Universität der Künste Berlin, SOAS London, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, University of Lagos, and last was a Professor at the Humboldt Universität Berlin, department of Gender Studies (2013), where her work is particularly known for exploring “decolonising knowledge” “decolonial feminism” and “performing knowledge”, as well as, for her works “Bodies Without Shame” and “Tongues Without Shame.”
Since 2014, she directs the artist talk series “Kosmos²”, at the Maxim Gorki Theatre, Studio R, in Berlin. In conversation with artists – who have been forced to flee home, cross borders and become refugees – Kilomba raises the question of how to interrupt and transform spaces, re-think artistic practices and political interventions. As she explains, “I feel this urge to create new configurations of power and new configurations of knowledge – only so, we can decolonise the concept of knowledge and the idea of who is acknowledge to have knowledge.” (ArtBasel 2016).