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Now That We Found Freedom, What Are We Gonna Do with It? at HANGAR Centro de Investigação Artística

When most people think of imperialism, they picture political-military hegemony. Yet at present, imperialism operates not so much through warfare as through collusion between sovereign powers and commercial monopolies, via a set of readymade mechanisms that can pressurize peripheral countries financially without recourse to direct coercion. Curated by Angolan artist Kiluanji Kia Henda together with Ecuadorian-Portuguese writer Ana Sophie Salazar, the group exhibition “Now That We Found Freedom, What Are We Gonna Do with It? Narratives on Post-Independence and Decolonisation Processes” speaks to the opacity of a system in which domination by parapolitical entities leaves a liberated yet immiserated citizenry bereft of a clear enemy. Hélio Buite’s installation Inoxidáveis (Stainless, 2020–22) delves into the informal economies that emerge out of what Andre Gunder Frank called “the development of underdevelopment,” while Rui Magalhães’s video Pelo Poder, 2021, takes its title from a mural calling “for people’s power.” Only, here, the artist omits the word “people’s,” leaving “for power” hanging over an undone altar in which a raised black hand towers over empty bottles stationed atop stacked beer crates.

Mussunda N’Zombo’s performance, Salalé, 2022, satirizes the Angolan ruling dynasty and its Russian ties—a leftover of a Cold War–era proxy conflict—by interjecting a Slavic-accented “niet” into a mock presidential address. Addressing the uneasy relationship of socialism and race, Yoel Díaz Vázquez’s film Previsión, 2022, questions to whom revolution belongs through an exploration of the discussions surrounding the proposed removal of Havana’s monument to former Cuban president José Miguel Gómez, who was responsible for the 1912 massacre of Afro-Cubans. Meanwhile Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro’s series of protean photographs, “Corpoflor” (Bodyflower, 2016–22) proposes a transformation that not only is physical but can extend to the social and the political realms and is thus available to all. Disenchanted but not defeatist, “Now That We Found Freedom” knows what to do with it.



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