South African artist Donna Kukama is creating an unusual book project for the 32nd São Paulo Biennial. During opening days of the international exhibition, she presents three chapters of the book in performances at three cultural sites: Consolação Cemetery, the Afro-Brazil Museum, and the Ciccillo Matarazzo pavilion where the biennial is held. Local history and current events inspire stories that unfold in video projections, storytelling, and public announcements. None of her layered narratives has an ending. All are unfinished, calling to mind the countless unresolved issues that cling to most of our personal and shared histories.
The photos below represent her 7 September performance in Consolação Cemetery. The conversation we recorded with Donna Kukama on skype is the second in a series we’re producing for Contemporary And, a platform for international art from African perspectives.
From the São Paulo Biennial website:
Donna Kukama uses performance as a means of resistance to the established artistic practices and, through it, seeks to deconstruct methods and invent procedures. Along with performance, she develops writings, videos and sound installations that use the public sphere in order to insert into the field of art voices that are foreign to this realm. Her questioning often addresses current events through the construction of narratives and the manner in which they play out socially. It is in this sort of context that Kukama introduces her body to create imagens of counter-enactments that disavow hegemonic reports. At the 32nd Bienal, the artist presents three chapters that comprise an extensive process in the creation of a book. The concept of book, however, does not refer to the object we know, but unfolds into performance, drawing, sculpture, video, text and oral history. This work then takes the form of a series of public announcements accompanied by projections produced in a direct relationship with the political contexts of each of the places she has been. The chapters that Kukama presents in Brazil are: C: The Genealogy of Pain, A: The Anatomy of History and B: I, Too, which will take place in different spaces and on different days.
Sound Editor: Guney Ozsan | Feature photo credit: Timmy Henny