Ghosts from the Past: Artist Mónica de Miranda delves into Portugal's colonial history

Ghosts from the Past: Artist Mónica de Miranda delves into Portugal's colonial history

Through drawing, installation, photography, film and sound, Mónica de Miranda explores the intersections of politics, gender, memory, space and history, inviting audiences to explore themes of resistance, geographies of affection, storytelling, and ecologies of care.

She is currently representing the Portugal Pavilion at the esteemed Venice Biennale 2024, presenting her project "Greenhouse", in collaboration with activist Sónia Vaz Borges and choreographer Vânia Gala.

Inspired by the French director Agnès Varda's 'Une minute pour un image' (one minute for one image), we've put together four original videos, each examining one of her stunning photographs.

'Creole Gardens' from the series 'Greenhouse'

This image taken by Miranda from the "Greenhouse" series, features in the showcase at the Portuguese Pavilion during the Venice Biennale. These gardens photographed were historically used by enslaved people for nourishment and freedom. The couple depicted "carry memories of black bodies throughout time."

'Twins' from the series 'Cinema Karl Marx'

Entitled 'Twins' from the series 'Cinema Karl Marx', this image, taken in Angola in 2017, reflects a pivotal moment in the transition from colonial struggles to independence. Female twins, a recurring motif in the artist's work, embody the complexities of space, time, identity, and culture. From an abandoned movie theatre, they confront and reconcile with the ghosts of the past, seated upon the dust of memories and history.

'Whistle for the Wind' from the series 'The Island'

Titled 'Whistle for the Wind' from 'The Island' series, this image confronts the overlooked black histories of Portugal, particularly in the context of nature's commodification and gendered violence. Shot in Alentejo, Portugal, in 2020, it explores colonial legacies, land exploitation, and gender subjugation, illustrating their interconnectedness.

'Sunrise' from the series 'The sun does not rise on the north'

This image, titled 'Sunrise' as part of the 'The sun does not rise on the north' series, was captured on Tarifa beach in Spain in 2023, overlooking Africa. It portrays deep connections between the main characters and various ecosystems, from the sea to the desert sands. The crashing waves symbolise a spiritual moment where water meets land. Drawing from Bakongo philosophy, the sunset and sunrise signify the exchange between the living and the dead, where death is seen as a transition rather than an end.