Performance of 'O Barco', by Grada Kilomba. Photo: Icaro Moreno
Performance of 'O Barco', by Grada Kilomba. Photo: Icaro Moreno

En its resumption of monographic projects, the Institute Inhotim invited the Portuguese artist Kilomba Grada to occupy Galeria Galpão, where works by William Kentridge, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller have already been presented. There, Grada recreated The Boat – The Boat, the original version of which was exhibited in 2021 at the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT), in Lisbon, and at Somerset House, in London.

The installation that is part of The boat was made entirely in Inhotim. It is made up of 134 burnt wood blocks, arranged in an area of ​​more than 220m². The structure alludes to the vessels that transported enslaved people during centuries of transatlantic trafficking. With gold oil paint, a syringe and a brush, Grada recorded lines from the poem The boat* in 18 of them. The same text appears in Yoruba, Kimbundu, Cape Verdean Creole, Portuguese, English and Syrian Arabic.

In mid-April, when Grada Kilomba's solo exhibition opened, the poem was recited for the first time, during a performance with a group of gospel and opera singers, classical dancers and percussionists, coming from Portugal. The presentation will be reassembled in the future with local artists from Brumadinho and the region, who will participate in workshops at the institute.

When explaining the conception of The boat, Grada emphasizes that it is a “living object”, and that she works, in her creative process, with “three major themes”: violence, death and repetition. A path that she considers “very intense”, made up of a lot of reading and writing, books spread throughout her home and studio.

“Then I start to translate my research into images, movements, sounds. And the work then begins to appear. For me it is important not to fixate on one material or support. The work tells me how it wants to appear. With wood, with earth, with music, performance, digital resources. It almost whispers in my ear”, he says.

According to Júlia Rebouças, artistic director of Inhotim, The boat responds to the desire to articulate, in programming, concepts relevant to the institution, namely, the relationship between art and nature, the connection with the territory of Brumadinho, where the institute is located, and contemporary times.

"In that regard The boat It is a very symbolic project, with many layers. It is performative, sculptural, monumental. And it also takes on the contours of poetry, music, and is activated by the territory over time”, says Júlia. “It is also a work that concerns a past that needs to be reviewed, critically revisited, but which also points to the future. And that interests us a lot. All these views that take us to other contexts, other possible worlds.”


One boat, one hold
One hold, one load
One load, one story
One story, one play
One piece, one life
One life, one body
One body, one person
A person, a being
One being, one soul
One soul, one memory
A memory, an oblivion
An oblivion, a wound
One wound, one death
One death, one pain
A pain, a revolution
A revolution, equality
An equality, an affection
An affection, humanity


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