Angela Ferreira
Mozambique, 1958
Ângela Ferreira is an artist who was born in Maputo, Mozambique, in 1958, when the country was still a Portuguese colony. She studied economics and art in South Africa during the apartheid period, and this social and political context was reflected in the ideological dimension of her work right from the start of her career. From the 1990s Ferreira lived between Portugal and South Africa and developed an artistic practice that focuses on analysing the consequences of colonialism and post-colonialism in the contemporary world— a field of research closely linked to ethnography and the re-examination of history, in which geopolitics, identity, and the configuration of the modern movement in contexts shaped by a colonial past (especially Africa’s) play a key role. Using a combination of reason and intuition, and working in diverse media—including drawing, photography, video and sculpture—Ferreira explores the impact and repercussions of modernism in Africa and its failure to really take hold in the continent. The biographical and historical sensitivity of her work is clearly reflected in a discourse that focuses on historical grievances, and in a search for alternative postcolonial narratives. Maison Tropicale, the project she presented at the 52nd edition of the Venice Biennale in 2007, is a good example of her artistic practice. The work is a large installation with documentary, sculptural and spatial references to the houses that French architect Jean Prouvé built in Africa, which symbolised French domination of the African colonies. In 2001 the houses were taken out of Africa and shipped back to Europe. Later, in a final neocolonial move, they were sold for substantial sums. The work shows how Ângela Ferreira uses art as a tool for thought and reflection that can offer new, critical perspectives and highlight the social, political and economic imbalances that have historically defined the hierarchical relationship between Europe and Africa. In addition to exhibiting at many museums and art centres around the world, including the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea – Museo do Chiado in Lisbon, the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea in Santiago de Compostela, the Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town, the Museu Serralves in Porto, and La Criée (centre d’art contemporain) in Rennes, Ferreira has carried out a number of interventions in public spaces, from the Castelo de Guimaraes, to the Frieze Sculpture Park in London, and the Parque das Nações in Lisbon. In 2015 she was awarded the Novo Banco Photography Prize. She currently lives and works in Lisbon, where she teaches sculpture at the University of Fine Arts.