“I often feel that we all know everything already, we just tend to forget it,” says the Berlin-based writer and interdisciplinary artist Grada Kilomba in her video installation “A World of Illusions” (2017-19). In the work, Kilomba, a trained psychoanalyst originally from Brazil, retells three Classical myths essential to Freud — Narcissus, Antigone and Oedipus — as a way of exploring the colonial violence that haunts the present. Kilomba, who is of West African descent, describes her role in the film as that of a griot, a storyteller of the African oral tradition, while an ensemble of Black actors dance and mime, silently acting out the tales. The importance of remembrance is a key thread running through the artist’s first solo exhibition in the U.S., “Heroines, Birds and Monsters,” which marks the inaugural show at Amant, a new arts complex in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, opening this month. Prior to becoming an artist, Kilomba was a psychologist and scholar, gaining acclaim following the publication of her book “Plantation Memories” (2008), a collection of stories based on Black women’s experiences of everyday racism in Germany. In 2013, she adapted the book into a staged reading. From there, she has continued to bring her writings to audiences through multimedia performance and installation. In the fall, Amant will screen a filmed reading of “Plantation Memories” and host a live conversation between Kilomba and the sculptor Simone Leigh. “Heroines, Birds and Monsters” will be on view from July 10 through Oct. 31 at Amant, 315 Maujer Street, Brooklyn, New York, amant.org.
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