Conferences Catarina Simão, artist, Portugal / Mozambique March 26, 2022

The archival doubt as a working field

The archival doubt as a working field explores the central role of the archive as a place for establishing critical connections.

The dimension of storage of information in the archival representation became at the core of my artwork since the development of The Mozambique Institute Project (Reina Sofia Museum, 2014). The work was about the first anti-colonial school built in the 60s by the Mozambique Liberation Front (F.R.E.L.I.M.O.).

Since 2014, I have started looking into centralized archives, namely Frelimo’s political archive (Maputo, Mozambique) to the Quai-Branly Museum Archive (Paris, France).

At the Quai-Branly Museum Archive, the collection of objects, documents and photographs come together from successive French museums founded in the colonial era (Trocadero Museum, Musée de L’Homme and Museum of Arts of Africa Oceania).

A refinement of the gaze occurs over time and allows for a comparative view by accumulating visual reports on the same object. For instance, it is possible to find a series of records capturing different settings of the same African item to capitalize its value according to the favorable interpretation of its “presence” in Europe.

If the archive offers elements that one cannot see by looking at that object, it’s because the evaluation usually has to be done in the light of the present time.

Over time, I noticed the following paradox: while the exhibition space is organized geographically and strives to tell the story of the African object in its “original place”, the archive tells the European narrative of that same African object—the infinity of nuances and realities obscured by the very “coherence” that emanates from materiality. The sheer persistence of the sources blinds us to the need to imagine beyond the construction of reality by history. Using examples of my recent work in Mozambique and Europe, my presentation favors the idea of a visual record without a center, yet connections take place critically, and categories emerge as forces that act in the object – regardless of its absence.

Catarina Simão

Catarina Simão is an artist and researcher living and working between Maputo and Lisbon. Her practice builds upon long-term research projects that entail collaborative partnerships and different forms of presentation to the public. Simão is known for her essay-like displays, using documentation, writing, video and drawing. She also engages in radio shows and public talks, participatory workshops, curating film screenings and publishing.

Since 2009, Simão has worked with the notion of Archive, engaging primarily with Mozambique’s colonial and anti-colonial history. Heavily influenced by narratives of history, Simão approaches critically the counterpart of record’s custody, their mutable meanings and their ability to embody a deferred knowledge. She works mainly with film and video sets in installation but also uses other figurative elements like photography, textbooks, drawing and sound. Simão’s work was presented at Serralves Museum, Manifesta 8, Africa.cont, Reina Sofia Museum, Ashkal Alwan, New Museum, The Kyiv School, E.V.A. International, Transit Gallery, Garage Museum and I.A.S.P.I.S., among others.

In Mozambique, Simão develops conditions for an artistic intervention within a social context by collaborating with local associations and institutions. She co-directed a Mozambique T.V. film called Djambo in 2016, and in 2019 she co-organized together with Oficina de História (Mozambique) the 1st Seminar on Restitution of art and artefacts to Mozambique (C.C.F.M., May 2019). Since February 2020, she has been co-editor of “Lutar Por Cabo Delgado”, a Facebook page dedicated to composing an archive of filtered information and imagery on the ongoing war in Cabo Delgado, in the North of Mozambique.

Since 2020, Simão has been a member and part of the founding committee of A.A.V.P. – Associação de Artistas Visuais em Portugal, the organization for visual artists in Portugal.

Research-based art practices in Southeast Asia

Research-based art practices in Southeast Asia

Artistic "incursions" into academic fields are challenging the established system of knowledge production and, in particular, its domination by local authoritative discourses. This research seeks to analyse the creative entanglement of academic and artistic research in Southeast Asia, particularly Cambodia, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam, and to examine its epistemological significance as a potential new mode of knowledge production.

Caroline Ha Tuc, independent Hong Kong-based art writer, researcher and curator, 2022