Marilú Mapengo Namoda: LOVE PRAXIS: Arts and Politics of giving birth to the FutureS

‘Aeroponic’ – root systems nourished by air – Acts is the name given to the nomadic Dutch Art Institute’s final Kitchen presentations. Each participant addresses one question, as a practice of engagement.

Here you will find the documentation of Marilú Mapengo Namoda's presentation as filmed by Baha Görkem Yalım. The written report is by Hubert Gromny and it includes a summary of the comments by esteemed guest respondents. 

LOVE PRAXIS: Arts and Politics of giving birth to the FutureS

Marilú's question: Can love heal colonial trauma?

Marilú's introduction: LOVE PRAXIS is an art intervention living at the crossroads of crafting new politics

In times of extreme identity political polarization, we create space for healing by (re)membering ourselves as wholes and interconnected Earth beings; Our proposal is a journey towards the manifestation of a LOVE ( o ) politics for the collective liberation; ( o ) as a decision, as an act of commitment to how we face the world and our own existence; We engage with the trouble of our historical wounds from within ourselves and by doing so, we seek and integrate old-new and cracking narratives/perspectives to dilute and expand the modern ways in which we perceive reality and social justice; It is from this radical place of ancestral Queerness and surrender that we weave imaginaries of complexities that go beyond the mechanisms that have been labeling, separating, and oppressing us; 

LOVE PRAXIS holds an animist approach inspired by the Yoruba spiritual philosophies and practices from where we awaken old monsters, water the wildness within, and invite us to dwell with the sky;

It's a ceremony of radical hope and beauty;

Collective grief and utopias;

All living at the end of everything that can start, now _____ .

Hubert's report: The audience enters a dark space with an illuminated stage where black and blue pillows are placed interchangeably on the floor inviting the audience to sit. Marilú stands in the spotlight wearing a white dress and pink patterned shawl. She is barefoot. The microphone lies near to her on the floor, on the other side of the stage a glass of water is located. Once the audience is settled Marilu kneels in the position evoking a gesture of salutation and throws a shawl over her head. Marilu upholds her feet and straightens her legs, achieving a vertical position of the headstand. She holds it for some time and comes back to a sitting position. The shawl remains to cover her face. The big projection of a tarot card—the tower—appears on the screen, and Marilú removes the shawl and begins her speech. Starting from acknowledging the current astrological circumstances Marilú engages with the narrative on her personal journey as a feminist activist in Mozambique and the broader context of Southern Africa. Accounting for different examples of social separability, disappointment, and disenchantment that she experienced during her activist work, Marilú moves to the proposal of reaching for guidance to Ubuntu philosophy and ancestral teaching, represented by the figure of ancestral fish (now image of redfish displayed on the screen). Speaking about the predicament of using colonial theory for decolonial practice Marilú outlines the proposal of love praxis as the one being able to move from the dichotomy of perpetrator and victim and heal wounds caused by colonialism. The third and last image on the screen displays the title of the presentation. Marilú declaims for the second time: “​​it’s all about ancestral fish fish who dwells inside” and leaves the stage marking the end of the performance.

Phanuel Antwi reflected on the form of the performance emphasizing its simplicity, which allowed details to gain their significance. Starting from the powerful gesture of headstand, the color of clothes, and the placement of a glass of water, reaching of which needed a movement and casting shadows on the screen, ending with the usage of microphone not only to speak but also tap a beat mimicking the rhythm of a heart. All these elements empowered the narrative and resembled storytelling practices cultivated in the regions of West Africa. Marilú speaking from the position of South-East Africa allowed seeing deep connectivity between philosophies and practices within the continent. This connectivity is an entry point to speak about love praxis and is a point of entry to the question if love can heal colonial trauma. Referring to that Phanuel came back to the pose of a headstand, which represented inner strength and the beauty of self-control and holding one's posture.  The physical and mental balance needed for that was juxtaposed with the image of the tarot card—the tower—which besides the vertical structure depicts people falling. Falling could be liberatory as well, referring to the question Phanuel noted that there is already a lot offered in the rendering of love practice proposed by Marilú and encouraged to see the relationship between Black and Indigenous feminist perspectives and ancestral knowledges with further acknowledging their complexities. Phanuel added that in the context of Marilú’s presentation, there is a certain proposal to move away from an emphasis on capitalism by entering a realm of Ubuntu philosophy concerned with personhood and humanity.

Momtaza Mehri elaborated on the question of reconciliation between different Black feminist traditions and noted that such conversations often require safe spaces. In the context of the presentation a gesture to speak about frustration and exhaustion with Black feminism was a strong intervention. In this light the headstand can be read as a position of vulnerability but also a gesture of humility. The sense of humility encompassed the presentation in a complex way, which Momtaza described as gestures of alienation from spaces that would provide a sense of comfort. In a way such an approach expresses not only frustration, but also a lot of faith in political projects, which were spoken of. Momtaza pointed out the crucial point of the presentation, which was commenting on the impossibility of complete political project and evoked Sylvia Wynter’s criticism of reducing the decolonial struggle to feminist or marxist vocabularies and grammars.  Aimé Césaire’s rejection of Marxism (after being a member of the French Communist Party) is another example. Dwelling in this frustration was a brave choice as many people are terrified to stay with this feeling. Commenting on Marilú’s proposal of love praxis, Momtaza referred to James Baldwin's position of reciprocity without universalism and closed her response by evoking a title of the poem by “A Person Is a Person Because of Other People” by Jeremy Cronin.

Ana Teixeira Pinto commented on the tower as an image of an institution, whose foundations are shaking. As for most institutions their foundations are not legitimate they can be thrown down with a whisper, but the falling of institutions is what terrifies people. Recalling the movie “La Haine” (Matthieu Kassovitz) and its storyline about three young men from different ethnic backgrounds Ana evoked the final scene of a person falling from the window saying “so far so good”. The falling from the tower is thus an invitation to leave a certain social structure, a leap of faith, but it is also a terrifying gesture. Referring to an example of incompleteness of structural analysis of capitalism mentioned by Marilú, Ana expanded on Marxist methodologies as not able to acknowledge the centrality of colonial structures. Connecting to Marilú’s question Ana moved toward the conceptualization of love by bell hooks pointing out its complexity and gave an example of the proposal of revolutionary love by Houria Bouteldja, as a case when such proposals can be widely misread and contested.


Marilú Mapengo Namoda's "LOVE PRAXIS: Arts and Politics of giving birth to the FutureS" was presented before live audience at the Centrale Fies, Dro, Italy on July 13th.

Find the overview of all 24 AEROPONIC ACTS 2022 here: tuttə (le) rottə - all (the) ways: unfixed