Among the Atlantic waters that connect Brazil, Portugal, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, contemporary artist Aline Motta engages with her matrilineage as a visionary compass to reconcile with the hidden dimensions of time, space, and self. Photographic portraits of women in her family immersed in water respond to and generate new currents of energy emanating from the past. Cities on and named after water, and the border between Portugal and Spain provide the setting for encounters with archival and narrative fragments related to Black slavery, the healing wisdom of grandmothers, and a poetic resistance to historical amnesia.
This video trilogy consists of a short program of three videos by Brazilian visual artist Aline Motta, as follows: Pontes sobre abismos [Bridges over the Abyss] (2017), Se o mar tivesse varandas [If the Sea Had Balconies] (2017), and (Outros) Fundamentos [(Other) Foundations] (2017–2019). Personal files, official documents, and oral stories are shuffled and confronted with footage taken in Cachoeira/Bahia/Brazil, Lagos, Nigeria; as well as different locations in Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Portugal, and Sierra Leone. In Bridges over the Abyss and If the sea had Balconies, photographs and documents from Motta’s family archive are printed on fabric and paper, submerged in water, or exposed to the wind in different places the artist visited on her travels. (Other) Foundations presents a mirror that suggests the cultural connections among Lagos, Cachoeira, and Rio de Janeiro, as well as urban, religious, and domestic scenes. The image of water is seen throughout the trilogy and alludes to Congo-Angola cosmologies, in which the notion of “Kalunga” is a fine line of water that separates the worlds of the living and the dead. Cosmograms and sacred writings are reiterated in different points in the videos, as well as throughout the artist’s practice, in an endless work of re-elaboration and redressing of these histories.
This multi-channel installation of three related videos will be on view in the Lauridsen Family Gallery at the Stanley Museum of Art. Aline Motta is a participant in Frequências: Contemporary Afro-Brazilian Cinema & the Black Diaspora, an Oberman Humanities Symposium & International Programs Major Project Award, held at the University of Iowa March 30 - April 1, 2023.