Silences, Ancestrality and Afro-Diasporic Religion in Brazil: A conversation with Dalton Paula
“Saint Benedict is Black,
Father, I too am Black, Mother!
This gathering is for Blacks, Father!”
(Song by the Terno de Congo 13 de Maio)
In this talk, Dalton Paula will discuss his artistic work, focusing especially on how it highlights the ways in which the gathering of black bodies and Afro-diasporic religions create black spacialities. According to him, “the references which I seek in these black bodies are the suburbs, the congadas (Afro-Brazilian religious and cultural festivals), the terreiros (Candomblé worship place), and rites of African-born religions. The excerpt above, taken from a song played by the Terno de Congo 13 de Maio confirms my preference for these black spacialities, in which myths acquire new life and meaning; in which ordinary people become kings and queens of Congo and renew their faith in Afro-Brazilian religiousness, which brings together Catholic saints and African deities and contemplates the sacred element in music, dance, body, and movement. “ The talk will be moderated by Ricardo Duarte (PhD Student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at NYU).
About the artist: “Dalton Paula is an Afro-Brazilian artist born in Brasilia in 1982. He earned a degree in visual arts from the Federal University of Goiás (UFG). A painter, performer and engraver, he was the only black Brazilian artist to participate in the 32nd São Paulo International Biennial, “Incerteza Viva”, where he presented his installation Rota do Tabaco (2015). The work follows on his reflection on the circulation of things–plants and their social uses, often with a sacred meaning–that have become commodities with the emergence, implementation, and the advance of modern capitalism. In the exhibition Amansa-Senhor (2015), Paula discusses how enslaved people found out how to utilize the neurotoxic effects of the Guinea Hen weed to placate their wicked masters, even killing them by controlled use of the plant. The same subject is recapped in Paratudo (2015), an art object assembled from this plant. In his work, Dalton Paula devotes a special place to the body and its multiple implications in a racist society.”