Currently lives and works in: (O)porto / Portugal
Practice: Performance Art
I am Melissa Rodrigues,
I am a performer, art educator and anti-racist activist. Feminist. I am interested in political art, political thinking within the contemporary art. Being a black woman in the African Diaspora – I was born in Cape Verde and live in Portugal – I seek to reflect on identity issues from the decolonial perspective, starting from my autobiography, the place where I exist, to rethink representations, concepts and policies of power and domination from the past that still manifests and remains today.
As an art educator in educational services of museums and artistic spaces, I am enthusiastic about communicating and sharing knowledge about contemporary art with all kinds of audiences. In recent times, I have developed some work in curatorship and programming, an area that delights me for the possibility it offers to think about inclusion policies and create other narratives and new possibilities within the contemporary art.
Areas of interest: Cinema, dance, music, performance, images (in general like all kinds of visual construction)
Why are you a part of MagiC Carpets: I was invited by the curator Lotta Schafer from ZK/U Berlin and I accepted with great pleasure. The invitation came about because of the questions I raise in my work that establish a dialogue with the internal questioning that Lotta Schafer has been developing as a member of ZK/U about gender and racial representativeness within the institution itself.
Past projects you are proud of:
Title: de submisso a político – o lugar do corpo negro na cultura visual [submissive to political – the place of black body in visual culture]
Type: Lecture performance
How many black men and women are represented in advertisement, television, movies, painting, photography and even in the books that we store in our shelves? How are they represented? I Google search “representation of a black body in visual culture”. Next to images of black bodies that are enslaved, sexualized, fetishized, submissive and savage, I find fresh visual and aesthetic narratives, new discourses generated from within, by those who are often the objects of these images, aiming at deconstructing the representations made by others about their own black bodies. This is the place where I find myself, my place.
MagiC Carpets project: CORONAS IN THE SKY, Not a Manifesto! an essay on Afrofuturism and Liberation
March 2020, many expectations, the possibility of spending almost 2 months in an artistic residence in Berlin and suddenly…Covid. I still managed to spend 4 days in Berlin and do some research before I decided to return to Porto, where I live and continue the residence from home. From an experience that was intended to be collaborative and based on performative and intimate mapping in a body-city relationship and creating dynamics with black women collectives in Berlin, I had to move on to a more solitary research experience on racism, colonialism, gender and exclusion.
From the decolonial perspective and having as aesthetic, theoretical and political inspiration in Afrofuturism, the process was a catharsis, a place of reencounter with myself and reconnection with my sorrows and my ancestors. And since everything is movement and everything is connected, in the final phase of the residency, I had the opportunity to collaborate with artists who are part of my network of affections and affinities, Lola Rodrigues, Claire Sivier and Desiree Desmarattes black women, Jade Rocha an indigenous woman and Dori Nigro a non-heteronormative black man, which allowed the project to be again a collective experience.
What inspires you as an artist? Everything is an object of inspiration, I felt it a lot during my residence at the MC. A song, a videoclip, a poem, a political event, History, pain, astonishment, personal and intimate stories, posts on social media… everything has the potential to inspire me.
What do you think is the purpose of art? To question, to make us observe, think and feel the world in different ways. To create other senses, to make connections between all that exists – often unusual connections – to open possibilities to make, to be, to exist beyond the impositions and limits of each society and each epoch
Your favourite book(s): Plantation Memories: Episodes of Everyday Racism by Grada Kilomba; Women, Race & Class by Angela Davis; Migrando by Mariana Chiesa Mateos; The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich
Your favourite film(s): Nobody Knows and all the other films by Hirokazu Koreeda