As we emerge from the confinement of lockdown and assess the benefits and losses from our general syncopation, the artist Monica De Miranda explores a multi-media exhibition, Mirages and Deep Time through her characters, embodied personages from photographs, moving images and embroidered printed matter. These characters manifest as a form of intervention that bring her messaging on the materialising new world order emergent from the dissolution of the past histories into new histories as human activity shapes the evolving world. This so called athropocene has created multiple time lines and for De Miranda, the artist, the artefacts of our time can never be reduced to mediums, illustration and narratives. All of these converge into Mirages and Deep Time and are embodied through her characters. There is a great reveal with the characters presenting as identities and obfuscated narratives, these ostensibly crop-up from her visual cues and metaphors.
For the seeker, there are obvious fundamentals that need materialising. Is this another false dawn, or are we wise enough to proceed into a newer relationship with each other? One that values interdependence and resists colonisation? The singular thread that runs through our common history is that of colonisation and exploitation. The image of the thirsty traveler lost in a desert who sees water reflected in the sand is a metaphor of the desperation that clouds judgment. These ideas reinforced, encourages the misguided to construct fountains in the desert. How do we emerge into a new timelines with an imagination shaped not from desperation but from freedom. In the natural sciences, Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle establishes the delimitations of subatomic particles with regards to position and momentum. And in contemporary art and culture, understanding the scope and limits of recent discourse around decoloniality and the assimilation of institutional critique into art world discourse risk deflating the potential to shape a new paradigm. De Miranda invites us to syncopate these rhythms; let us listen to the youths and let the elders pass on the wisdom of the past and step aside.
By upending well known visual cues and cliches, Monica de Miranda’s Mirages and Deep Time circumscribes the problems with decolonial tropes. It is not a hopeless task, it is a continuous and unmitigated quest, one that requires hyper-vigilance and an understanding the limits of learned history. Mirages and Deep Time give scope to the spiritual and metaphysical aspects about rethinking Black history and identity in Portuguese history. It also advances the conversation towards ecology, nature and new forms of knowledge generation in addressing contemporary world’s biggest challenge in climate change in the age of anthropocene.
– Azu Nwagbogu, curator