Kabare, 2019

Photo: Kristien Daem | Courtesy the artist and Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, Brussels, New York

Metal bars, steel grille, plywood, LED bulbs
150 x 350 x 70 cm

Kabare (2019) is a sculptural work by Paulo Nazareth (b. 1977, Governador Valaderes, Brazil) that declares the name of the Kabare prison in the South-Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo in large LED lights. It is one of several high security prisons and penal colonies referenced by Nazareth in a body of work that was first exhibited in his 2019 solo exhibition at Mendes Wood (Brussels), [A] LA FLEUR DE LA PEAU. The LED bulbs, commonly associated with forms of advertising and entertainment, are mounted on a steel grille and spell out the names of these sites, producing a material combination that results in a contradiction between the work’s internal aesthetics and subject matter. At the same time, the combination is purposive: Nazareth’s reason for adopting these devices lies in his exploitation and active diversion of their vocal capacity to broadcast the names of locations afforded minimal attention by mainstream media. Specifically, Kabare and its counterparts, île du Diable, La Santé, and Saint-Gilles (all 2019), announce the names of these places to call attention to the relationship between incarceration and colonial power, the fatal treatment of colonial subjects and the imprisonment of Black men. In the case of Kabare in particular, Nazareth highlights that “the African prison is not a native institution, but a colonial remnant of body control.” A number of the sites represented in this series of work also mark points along a pilgrimage completed by Nazareth’s mother and sister, that follows a route inspired by the idea of Mother Africa and the African diaspora. Theirs is an act which reflects Nazareth’s own walks throughout the Americas and the African continent, which make up a significant part of his practice. Classed as performances, these walks inscribe his practice with an explicitly cartographic dimension, as he looks to map his own ancestral history onto contemporary landscapes, in ways that link his with the lives of others. His material output, represented by displays of found objects and sculptural works like Kabare, constitute the physical traces of the larger framed practice of his ongoing exploration of place, which follows a route governed by his explicit feeling that: “We Brazilians don’t know where we’re from.” – Elsa Gray


Group show: Remedios
Venue: C3A Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía, Córdoba
Curator: Daniela Zyman
Exhibition 14 April 2023 -  March 2024