BIOGRAPHY

 
Grada Kilomba is a interdisciplinary artist and writer, born in Lisbon and living in Berlin.
Her work draws on memory, trauma, race, gender, and the decolonisation of knowledge: ‘who can speak?’ ‘what can we speak about?’ and ‘What happens when we speak?’ are three constant questions in Kilomba’s body of work. In her work, she intentionally creates a hybrid space between the academic and the artistic languages, and uses storytelling as a central element for her decolonial practices.
She is best known for her subversive and her unconventional use of artistic practices, in which she gives body, voice and image to her own text – what she describes as Performing Knowledge – using a variety of formats such as Publication, Performance, Staged Reading, Installation, Film, Text Collage, Sound and Video Installation.
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, Masken und Subjekte (2005), an anthology on Critical Whiteness Studies.
Her artworks have been presented internationally, including at: 10. Berlin Biennale; Documenta 14, Kassel; 32. Bienal de São Paulo; Rauma Biennal Balticum; Art Basel; Frieze London, Cape Town Art Fair;  1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Marrakech; The Power Plant, Toronto; MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon;  Galeria Avenida da Índia, Lisbon; WdW Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam;  Secession Museum, Vienna; Bozar Museum, Brussels; SAVYY Contemporary, Berlin; Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin,  among others.
Kilomba is represented by the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

EARLY LIFE AND CAREER
With roots in Angola, São Tomé e Príncipe and Portugal, Kilomba was born in Lisbon where she 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, trauma and colonialism, extending her concerns to form, language, and performance.
Recognised for her academic excellence, Kilomba received a Ph.D. fellowship from the German Heinrich Böll Foundation, and moved from Lisbon to Berlin, where she attained a Doctorate in Philosophy (summa cum laude) from the Freie Universität Berlin, in 2008.
Since 2004, she has been lecturing at several international universities, and last, was a Professor at the Humboldt Universität Berlin, department of Gender Studies. Her work in the academia was known for its hybridity, in which Kilomba combined theory, writing, and performance as integral part of her seminars; among others she developed for several years the works Bodies Without Shame – Decolonial FeminismTongues Without Shame – Decolonizing Knowledge  and Performing Knowledge.
Her written work has been published in numerous international anthologies and translated into several languages. She is the co-editor of Mythen, Subjekt und Masken (2008), a pioneer anthology on Critical Whiteness; and the author of Plantation Memories (2008), a compilation of episodes of everyday racism written in the form of short psychoanalytical stories, and released at the International Literature Festival, at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Berlin. Soon after its release, her book became internationally acclaimed, and Kilomba started presenting herself  on stage with performative readings of her own book, at prominent theatres, literary and academic venues.
In 2011, she was awarded as one of “The Most Inspirational Black Women in Europe” by the Austrian BWIE due to her writings and performative readings; and in 2013, she was named a “Woman of Excellence” by the German Sonne Magazine.
Later on, Kilomba  extended her concerns to the performance of knowledge - Performing Knowledge -, and started experimenting the use of theoretical and political texts on stage and the performance and the visualisation of post-colonial narratives. As Kilomba argued “I am interested on working in-between disciplines and on creating hybrid spaces where the boundaries between the academic and the artistic languages confine, in order to transform the configurations of knowledge and power.”
Among others, she adapted Nuruddin Farah’s book ‘ Yesterday, Tomorrow’ (2010) as well as her own book  Plantation Memories into a staged reading (2012), and developed numerous  lecture-performances. Particularly relevant is her lecture-performance Decolonising Knowledge (2013), presented internationally. A piece reflecting on the concepts of  knowledge, race, and gender, exposing not only how violence can be produced through knowledge production, but also how this violence is performed in academic, cultural and artistic spaces: “What is acknowledged as knowledge? Whose knowledge is this? Who is acknowledged to produce knowledge?” 
In 2015, during the ‘European migrant crisis’ and the controversial architectonic project ‘Humboldt Forum’, Kilomba was honourably invited by the Maxim Gorki Theatre, in Berlin, to make an artistic and political intervention. During the 19th century, after his colonial journeys, Humboldt held his famous lectures ‘Kosmos’ at the Singakademie zu Berlin, today’s Maxim Gorki Theatre , to describe  and classify the world. Kilomba raised the question of how can we today transform spaces and decolonise concepts of knowledge? During two years  she developed the acclaimed series titled KOSMOS² (2015 – 2017) at Studio R,  a performative intervention and critical dialogue where artists who were forced to leave home, cross borders, and become refugees are in conversation with Kilomba exploring the  importance of subversive artistic practices.
More recently, Kilomba started experimenting with film and installation. Kilomba’s highly thought provoking works, have been presented in many different international platforms, mostly within academia and theatre. In a recent interview to the Shirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt Magazine (2018) she says “My work is very experimental and hybrid. It is a work that can be placed everywhere and nowhere at the same time.”
Kilomba entered the contemporary art world, in 2016, when she was invited to and commissioned to develop a work for the 32. Biennal of São Paulo.
This followed Documenta 14, in Kassel 2017; two major solo exhibitions at Galeria Avenida da Índia in Lisbon (2017) curated by Gabi Ngcobo, at MAAT- Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon (2017) curated by Inês Grosso; and several international group exhibitions, including two shows at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg and Cape Town (2017), at Museu Serralves in Oporto (2017), and at the Museu das Artes in Belo Horizonte (2017); by the end of the same year, the International Film Festival Rotterdam awarded her artwork Illusions Vol. I , Narcissus and Echo (2017).

 

 

 

 

SOLO  EXHIBITIONS

2018       Secrets to Tell, The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada

2018       Speaking the Unspeakable, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

 

2017       Secrets to Tell, MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture. and Technology, Lisbon, Portugal

2017       The Most Beautiful Language, Gallery Avenida da Índia, EGEAC, Lisbon, Portugal

 

 

 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2018       In Context: I was waiting for this Past. Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

2018       Art Basel, Switzerland

2018       We don’t need another hero, 10. Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany

 

2017       Incerteza Viva – Live Uncertainty, selected artist to represent the 32. Bienal de São Paulo, Centro Dragão do Mar de Arte e Cultura , Fortaleza, Brazil

2017      3. Berliner Herbstsalon, Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin, Germany

2017       The Silences Between, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

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

 


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