Grada Kilomba_05A2124©-Ute-Langkafel-MAIFOTO

Portrait of Grada Kilomba © Ute Langkafel


Pace Welcomes Grada Kilomba

Published Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Pace is pleased to announce its representation of the Berlin-based Portuguese artist Grada Kilomba in the United States. Kilomba, whose work centers on decolonial storytelling, has nurtured a practice spanning video, performance, staged readings, photography, and sculptural and sound installations. The artist’s first presentation with Pace—opening at the gallery’s New York flagship on May 12—will mark the US debut of her installation 18 Verses(2022). Pace will represent Kilomba in collaboration with Goodman Gallery.

Kilomba’s work draws on memory, trauma, gender, postcolonialism, and notions of selfhood to interrogate concepts of knowledge, power, and cyclical violence. The artist’s approach to these subjects is informed by her training in psychoanalysis and Frantz Fanon studies along with her past work with war survivors. In her unique practice of storytelling, Kilomba gives body, voice, movement, and form to her own texts, creating subversive and poetic imagery to interrupt the collective imaginary. Her process is guided by a series of questions: “What stories are told? Where are they told? How are they told? And told by whom?”

Her scholarly pursuits and achievements are reflected in her visual arts practice, through which she meditates on timeless acts of history, repetition, and ritual. The artist holds a Doctorate in Philosophy from the Freie Universität Berlin and has lectured at several international universities. She is the author of the acclaimed book Plantation Memories: Episodes of Everyday Racism, which has been translated into several languages and adapted by the artist into a staged reading and video installation.

Investigating politics and histories of dehumanization, Kilomba’s art collapses the spatial and temporal boundaries that separate the past, present, and future. “I work with the incomprehensibly violent moments of history, the ones for which we have no language,” Kilomba said in a 2022 interview with Frieze. “Then, in my art, I try to generate that missing vocabulary, to find the names for things that have never had names, the names for things we are afraid of naming.”


Installation view of Grada Kilomba | One soul, one memory featuring 18 Verses (2022) at Goodman Gallery in London, courtesy Goodman Gallery

The artist’s debut exhibition with Pace in New York will spotlight her sculptural installation 18 Verses, which follows her acclaimed large-scale installation and performance O Barco | The Boat (2021), a 32-meter-long sculptural slave ship memorializing the Middle Passage. O Barco | The Boat was first presented at BoCA - Biennial of Contemporary Art in Lisbon in 2021 and then at Somerset House in London in 2022 on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the 1- 54 Contemporary African Art Fair, among other venues.

In 18 Verses, Kilomba continues using the boat as a metaphor to explore systems of power. This sculptural installation reveals the silhouette of a shipwreck, alluding to migrant routes across the Mediterranean and global waters today, while also echoing images, gestures, and sounds that insinuate a sense of historical repetition. As the artist states, “When history is not told properly, its barbarity repeats itself.”

18 Verses is composed of burnt wooden pieces, each engraved with a poem written by the artist. The work also includes black fabric, which is situated among the wooden components, and a multichannel sound piece. The installation explores the material duality of ancient techniques and contemporary sound technologies. After the wood undergoes a traditional burning process, it is immersed in a sonorous landscape in which human breathing negotiates its own space amid the sound of wind and waves.

18 Verses, which figures in Kilomba’s solo exhibition One soul, one memory at Goodman Gallery in London through April 6, will be installed on the seventh floor of Pace’s 540 West 25th Street gallery from May 12 to July 1.

Marc Glimcher, CEO of Pace Gallery, says:
“We’re thrilled to welcome Grada Kilomba to Pace. Through her work in visual, written, and sonic mediums, Grada tells powerful stories about the cyclical nature of history. Bringing her scholarly work in psychology and postcolonial studies into the visual realm, Grada has cultivated a deeply poetic mode of art making. Grada’s lyrical work in installation and performance makes her a great fit for our program, which has had a strong emphasis on experimental performance since its beginnings. We look forward to working with Goodman Gallery as we share Grada’s art with our American audience.”

Kilomba is a co-curator of the 2023 Bienal de São Paulo, and she will debut a new commission at the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden in Germany in 2025. She participated in La Biennale de Lubumbashi VI in 2019; the Berlin Biennale in 2018; Documenta 14 in 2017; and the Bienal de São Paulo in 2016. In recent years, her work has been presented at the Norval Foundation in Cape Town; the Palais de Tokyo in Paris; Castello Di Rivoli Museo D’Arte Contemporanea in Turin; Amant in New York; the Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions in Tokyo; Pinacoteca de São Paulo; The Power Plant in Toronto; and other international venues. Her work can be found in the collections of Tate Modern in London; the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon; the Royal Dutch Collection in the Netherlands; and the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College in New York.

To learn more about Grada Kilomba, click here.
  • News — Grada Kilomba Joins Pace Gallery, Apr 4, 2023