BIOGRAPHY

 

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Grada Kilomba is a Portuguese interdisciplinary artist and writer living in Berlin.

Her work draws on memory, trauma, race, gender, and the decolonisation of knowledge and narrative: ’who can speak?’ ‘what can we speak about?’ and ‘what happens when we speak?’ Are three constant questions in Kilomba’s body of work.

She has been exhibiting and performing her work internationally at renown venues, such as Documenta 14 in Kassel, 32. Bienal de São Paulo 2016, Rauma Biennal Balticum 2016, Art Basel, Cape Town Art Fair,  Transmediale, Secession Museum in Vienna, Bozar Museum in Brussels, Maritime Museum in London, SAVYY Contemporary in Berlin, Wits Theatre in Johannesburg, Theatre Müncher Kammerspiel in Munich, Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin,  Palace of Arts in Belo Horizonte, among others.

She is best known for her subversive writing and her unconventional use of artistic practices, in which she ‘gives body, voice and image to her own writings’, and brings texts into performance – using a variety of formats from video installations, to staged readings, to performances, text collage, and sound installations. In her work, Kilomba intentionally creates a hybrid space between the academic and artistic languages, and storytelling is central to her decolonial practices.

‘If to decolonise knowledge means to create new knowledge and power configurations, then Kilomba decolonises it by subverting content, undoing standard practices – and inventing new methods and places of expression’ (In the 32. Bienal de São Paulo catalogue, 2016). Her work has been described to have the powerful beauty of touching ‘the colonial wound’ with a surgical precision and simultaneously of creating an inspiring and refreshing poetry of formats – ’bringing a new, experimental and compelling voice to contemporary art and discourse’ (ARTEBrasileiros 2016).

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 Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

 

 

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BACKGROUND

Kilomba studied Clinical Psychology and Psychoanalysis at the ‘ISPA – Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada’ in Lisbon. There, she worked in the psychiatry department 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. Recognised for her academic excellence, she received a Ph.D. fellowship from the German Heinrich Böll Foundation, and moved to Berlin, where she attained a Doctorate in Philosophy (summa cum laude) from the Freie Universität Berlin 2008.

Since 2004, she has been lecturing at several international universities, and last, was a Full Professor at the Humboldt Universität Berlin, department of Gender Studies (2012 – 2013), where her series on ‘Performing Knowledge’ became particularly known, as well as, her works ‘Bodies Without Shame’ and ‘Tongues Without Shame’.

She is the author of ‘Plantation Memories’ (2008), a compilation of episodes of everyday racism written in the form of short psychoanalytical stories; and the co-editor of ‘Mythen, Subjekt, Masken’ (2005), an interdisciplinary anthology on critical whiteness studies. In 2010, as part of her Performing Knowledge series, Kilomba started bringing theoretical and political texts into stage, exploring the visualisation of ‘silenced  voices’ and ‘uncomfortable knowledges’, with a fixed ensemble of actors, and presented her work at various international theatre venues. More recently, she extended her work into visual arts and installation, and started experimenting with film, video, and sound, introducing another performative element to her writings.

Currently, she performs and exhibits her artworks internationally, and directs the artist talk series KOSMOS² (2015-2017) 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 acknowledged to have knowledge.” (ArtBasel 2016).

 

 

 

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Installation View at the Secession Museum, Vienna, Austria (2015). Photo by Ana Freitas

 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2017      Incerteza Viva – Live Uncertainty, selected artist to represent the 32. Bienal de São Paulo, at the Palace of Arts, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

2017      SouthSouth – Let Me Begin Again, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

 

2016      O futuro será uma réplica – The future will be a replica, Consul of Portugal in São Paulo, Brazil

2016      Incerteza Viva – Live Uncertainty, 32. Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

2016      Vulnerability, Rauma Biennial Balticum, Rauma, Finnland

2016      Knowledge Unbounded, Department of Arts and Aesthetics Edxhibition, University of Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden

2016     Banquete Antropofágico – Anthropophagic Banquet, Department of Contemporary Arts Exhibition, University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

 

 

SELECTED PERFORMANCES

2017      Documenta 14, Kassel, Germany

2017      SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin, Germany

2017      Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

 

2016      Teatro Vila Velha, Salvador da Bahia, Brazil

2016      32. Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

2016      Theatre Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin, Germany

2016,      Wits Theatre, Johannesburg, South Africa

2016      Theatre Münchner Kammerspiel, Munich, Germany

2016      Goethe Institut Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

2016      TheaterTreffen, Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Berlin, Germany

2016      Secession Museum Vienna, Vienna, Austria

2016      University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria

2016      University of Accra, Accra, Ghana

2016      Berliner Festspiele, Berlin

2016      Kampnagel, Hamburg, Germany

2016      Mostra Internacional de Teatro em São Paulo, Brazil

2016      Bozar Museum for Contemporary Arts, Brussels, Belgium

2016      SOAS University of London, London, UK

 

2015      Theatre Münchner Kammerspiel, Munich, Germany

2015      Antwerpen Museum, Antwerpen, Belgium

2015      Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Vienna, Austria

2015      Theatre Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin, Germany

2015      International Arts Center José Guimarães, Guimarães, Portugal

2015      Theatre Ballhaus Naunynstrass, Berlin, Germany

2015      Oslo House of Literature, Oslo, Norway

 

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SELECTED ARTIST TALKS/ LECTURES

2017      Academy of Arts Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2017      Transmediale, House of the World Cultures, Berlin, Germany

2017      Art Fair Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

2017      Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin, Germany

 

2016      AfroTranscendente, São Paulo, Brazil

2016      Goethe Institut Salvador da Bahia, Bahia, Brazil

2016      Berlin University of Arts – UdK, Berlin, Germany

2016      ArtBasel, Basel, Switzerland

2016      Mousonturm House of Arts, Frankfurt, Germany

2016      University of Accra, Accra, Ghana

2016      Goethe Institut São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

2016      Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin, Germany

 

 

2015      Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Vienna, Austria

2015      Theatre Ballhaus Naunynstrasse, Berlin, Germany

2015      University of Linköping, Linköping, Sweden

2015      Free University Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2015      University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Holland

2015      University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

2015      Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin, Germany