STEVENSON is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Ângela Ferreira, her second at the gallery, following Werdmuller Centre and Other Works in 2010. The show brings together a body of work in various media, Carlos Cardoso - Straight to the Point, and an audio/sculptural piece, Kaapse Sonnette/Cape Sonnets.
Ferreira's work is concerned with the ongoing impact of colonialism and post-colonialism on contemporary society, an investigation that is conducted through in-depth research and the distillation of ideas into concise and resonant forms. In the case of the first body of work, Ferreira pays tribute to the life and work of slain Mozambican journalist Carlos Cardoso (1951-2000), and in so doing asserts the importance of freedom of expression.
Like Ferreira, Cardoso was born in Mozambique while it was still under Portuguese colonial rule, and studied in South Africa during the apartheid era. He began his career as a journalist in Mozambique in 1975, the year the country gained its independence from Portuguese rule. An intellectual who wrote poetry, painted and acted in radio plays, Cardoso was an active supporter of Frelimo, the former liberation movement that was elevated to power, but his political militancy and social criticism at times brought him into conflict with the ruling party. After the country's 16-year civil war, which ended in 1992 with a peace agreement that provided for multi-party democracy, Cardoso and a group of fellow intellectuals founded an independent newspaper, MediaFAX - the first daily paper to use the fax (a medium that was both cheap and efficient) as a means of disseminating information. With Cardoso as chief editor, MediaFAX spearheaded investigative journalism in the country and played a vital role in exposing corruption in the government. Next Cardoso set up a daily paper, Metical, that used both the fax and email as transmission media. Metical was also active in exposing corruption in government and the commercial sectors. At the time of Cardoso's murder on 20 November 2000, he was investigating dodgy dealings among Mozambican banks as well as real estate corruption. With his assassination, Mozambique's image as a model emerging democracy crumbled; and the regime saw the lowering of one of its most revered banners: that of the freedom of the press.
Ferreira has produced a series of installation sculptures that act as monuments to Cardoso and the alternative journalism that he pioneered. Four floor sculptures titled MediaFAX make reference to the fax machine and the publications that embodied Cardoso's commitment to the dissemination of impartial and accurate information. Another sculptural work, Cena Aberta, takes the form of a radio tower in aluminium with megaphones that transmit two radio pieces - still broadcast in Mozambique - in which Cardoso participated as an actor, his voice remaining a powerful instrument more than a decade after his death. The show also features a large photographic print of the memorial to Cardoso, unveiled in 2010 on the Avenida Mártires da Machava in Maputo, archival material relating to his writing and publishing, and a print of an article on Cardoso in the Mail & Guardian which served as a catalyst for Ferreira in producing this body of work. (Click here to read the article, by Julie Frederikse, and click here to read a subsequent article written by Frederikse in response to Ferreira's work.)
The work Kaapse Sonnette/Cape Sonnets bears a resemblance to Cena Aberta, as well as to For Mozambique: Model No 2 which showed at the gallery in 2008; like these works it references the structure of a broadcast tower, as erected in Mozambique in the 1970s. A large-scale wooden version of this smaller construction made from thatching lathes was conceived for Utopia and Monument II, an exhibition in public spaces in Graz, Austria, as part of the Steirischer Herbst festival in 2010. In both versions, the 'tower' broadcasts readings of poems by Peter Blum (1925-1990), who moved to South Africa from Vienna with his Jewish parents in 1935. In the 1950s, Blum wrote sonnets in colloquial Cape Afrikaans in which he satirised local events and phenomena peculiar to the apartheid South Africa of the time. Blum's irreverent poetry did not endear him to the regime and his application for citizenship was turned down, prompting him to leave the country in 1960. He spent the rest of his life in Britain, forbidding the publication of his poetry in South Africa. Cape Sonnets will be exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in May 2012.
Born in Maputo, Ferreira studied at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town in the 1980s. She lives in Lisbon, and in 2007 represented Portugal at the 52nd Venice Biennale with her acclaimed Maison Tropicale project. Recent solo exhibitions include Carlos Cardoso - Straight to the Point at Galeria Filomena Soares, Lisbon (2011); Double Lecture at Carpe Diem, Lisbon (2010); and Hard Rain Show at the Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisbon, and the Centro de Arte Contemporãnea La Crieé in Rennes (2009). Group exhibitions include Appropriated Landscapes at the Walther Collection in Neu-Ulm/Burlafingen, Germany (2011); Propaganda by Monuments at the CIC Cairo, Egypt (2011); the Bucharest Biennale (2010); Modernologies: Contemporary artists researching modernity and modernism at the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2009) and the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw (2010); Learning Modern at Sullivan Galleries, School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2009); Front of House at Parasol Unit, London (2008), and the 28th São Paulo Biennale (2008).
The exhibition opens on Tuesday 25 October, from 6 to 8pm.