The Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia started on February 7 with the Opening Ceremony, where 88 athletes bearing the flags of their respective nations led their national delegations into the Olympic Stadium. When a lonely man representing Zimbabwe entered on position 26, one could have asked two questions: Why is a Zimbabwean the 26th, if there is an alphabetical order? And, probably more interesting, what is a man from the southern Africa doing at Olympic Winter Games?
“Submundo Luso vs 12transfusons” is a new mix tape that features rappers from Angola, Mozambique, Brazil and Portugal. Released on New Year’s Eve after five months of preparation, the project brought together hip-hop promoters from the blogs Submundo Luso [pt] in Mozambique and 12transfusons [pt] in Angola. The two met online and the former invited the latter to collaborate.
In this interview for the blog Underground Lusófono [pt], Astérix o Néfilim (Astérix the Giant, in English), a rapper, producer and manager at 12transfusons, talks about the effort, which counted the participation of artists from all over the globe and is now available as a free download. He also shares his views on the artistic scene in Cabinda – a tiny province in the north of Angola – and the challenges caused by such isolation.
"I don't consider Brazil that different from Angola, culturally speaking. By the way, Angola currently consumes a lot of global culture. Mostly younger people. Not even the differences in language are an obstacle to the understanding of my comics."
Face to face
In contemporary Portuguese cinema, the question is to know how to represent the revolution. How can the revolution’s temporality be reconfigured in the present? How can it be made present and not past? How can the archives of the revolution’s political strength be restored? If the crossing of history is always a critical operation and if the historical approach implies a process of identification with past events, for contemporary Portuguese filmmakers — especially the children of the revolution — these vast archives and this impressive cinematic corpus place the question outside of the reach of any historicism.
He dares refer to Angola as ‘pretty much terra incognita’ and even as a country in ‘isolation’. These descriptions are unfathomable when you consider even a basic historical listing that might take in the arrival of the Portuguese in the fifteenth century, the onward creep of Christianity, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Portuguese colonialism, the proxy Cold War, the international oil and diamond industries, and more recently the influx of the Chinese, not to mention Angola’s major financial investments in Portugal and the explosion of kuduro music across the globe. Even at the micro level, there are plenty of Angolans who live in Luanda’s musseques, but travel across the globe to buy clothes, soft furnishings and mobile phones to sell back home. Isolated? I think not. Unknown to parochial North Americans? No doubt.
I will begin by reviewing two contrastive approaches in the anthropological and neighboring literatures on Latin America: the postcolonial and the multiple modernities perspectives. It then discusses the possible place(s) of Brazilian classic nation-building literature in these debates, putting forth an argument for the need for substantial historical embedding when addressing the postcolonial in relation to Brazil. It concludes with remarks based on ongoing ethnographic research about contemporary South-South cooperation between Brazil and the African continent.
Is imperative to not look at recent events in a epiphenomenal way, focusing exclusively on the squares themselves, as if these events were “irrational”, came out of nowhere and went back to noplace (the very name “Arab Spring” seems to imply that the Spring is outside the historical time). We should instead try to understand them in continuity, alongside a myriad of encounters, practices, actions – that we call ’zones of resistance and practices of invention’.
Games Without Borders
Latin American intellectuals have been in the forefront of doing mestiçage, métissage, Anthropophagy. While we certainly consider ourselves as part of Postcolonial theory, we have also critiqued certain of its aspects, for example the ahistorical, uncritical celebration of hybridity discourse. We were asking: “What are the genealogies of such discourses?” We prefer to emphasize the question of “linked analogies” between and across national borders. So for us, cross-border analysis becomes really crucial. It is not reducible to nation-state formations.
Generative Indirections is an international meeting for artists and researchers, it took place in Montemor-o-Novo (september 2013). To avoid the franchising of an anglo-saxon epistemology, we have decided to create a dialogue between Performance Studies and three texts written in different types of Portuguese, from three different parts of a post-colonial world: Portugal, Brazil and Angola. Necessarily contradictory and idealistic, all of them question, simultaneously, ways of production of knowledge and the worlds it builds. They invite us to think about the premisses of contemporaneity, in Portuguese, from a non Euro-centric perspective. ‘Neo Animist Decalogue', by Ruy Duarte de Carvalho (Angola), refers this type of ecologies by questioning the urgency of the western humanistic paradigms – rationalist, positivist e eurocentric.
Ruy Duarte de Carvalho
Researching the relations between ongoing artistic, social and political forms of life, Generative Indirections intends to explore the potentialities of performance studies in the critical space between the Social Sciences, Humanities and Art, and give voice to counter hegemonic epistemologies, blurring theory and practice. In-direction thus becomes a magnetic field, moving between theory and practice, challenging disciplinary boundaries in order to question how Performance Studies can be received in Portugal.
ECAScreening5: The battle mentioned in the title of the movie is that between Good and Evil, symbolizing music and silence, Africa and Europe, told through the story of a Guinean musician who, caught in the convulsions of the colonial war, left for Portugal and returns home to the wedding of his daughter with a musician, ending up disturbing the ancestral equilibrium of mandinga mysticism.
ECAScreening9: Today a new African cinema is coming into being, which is adding something new and significant to the cultural and artistic life of this continent. The importance of this development was underlined at an international round-table discussion held last year in Venice on “Africa and Contemporary Civilization”. At this gathering Unesco presented several studies on the cinema in Africa. The article below is an edited and abridged version of a study by Jean Rouch, in which the French film producer traces the development of the cinema in Africa and looks at some of its new trends. The subject will also be dealt in future issues.
ECAScreening8: Representations of Africa tend to reproduce old stereotypes, adapted to recent trends but ultimately reproducing, even in postcolonial times, a largely negative and monolithic image of a diverse continent. The same can be said of cinema. A more or less consensual approach to "African cinema" associates it with exoticism, making it into a genre easily recognized by Western audiences. It is this idea of a backward, monolithic Africa that the curators of African Screens, Manthia Diawara and Lydie Diakhatí, intended to challenge.
ECAScreening7: Almost from the moment of cinema’s invention, Africa has been inserted into its global system, but on the most unfavorable terms: it has been the dumping ground for second-run “B” movies from Hollywood, Bollywood and Hong Kong, films that are often racist and always estranged from African realities and purposes, while the formidable technical, infrastructural, and capital requirements of making and distributing films made it nearly impossible for Africans to respond in kind with their own films. Because of these steep infrastructural and capital requirements, cinema everywhere depends on state support, and postcolonial African states have proved indifferent, timorous, corrupt, and inept at providing it; the postcolonial African elite has been as philistine as Fanon predicted, without the power or interest to invest in culture (Fanon).
In this 2nd call we announce both topics together – BODY: IMAGES AND GEOGRAPHIES – by the inherent articulation between body, representations and space, which are not separate forms nor constitute an organically organized ecosystem. They build up each other correlatively. Thus, space is not present as mere neutral recipient of physical action and experience, it is first likely to influence and transform the body, simultaneously generating new representations. We witness a (more or less active) constant negotiation between body, representations and space.