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exp. 1

exp. 2

exp. 3


Virginia Borges, Gil DuOdé, and Virginia de Medeiros

Venue: KW Institute for Contemporary Art

Virginia Borges, Gil DuOdé, and Virginia de Medeiros

Virginia Borges, born 1980 in São Paulo, BR – lives and works in Berlin, DE
Gil DuOdé, born 1986 in Belo Horizonte, BR – lives and works in Berlin
Virginia de Medeiros, born 1973 in Feira de Santana, BR – lives and works in São Paulo

Trem em Transe [Train in Trance, 2019], exhibited at exp. 2, begins aboard a train, whose journey forks onto the divergent tracks of the spiritual and the mundane. The camera zooms in on a young Black man preaching his gospel of salvation. He was desperate, despondent, and homeless, but now wears a wristwatch and a suit, by the grace of God. Praise the Lord. Sola fide, the doctrine of redemption by faith alone, helped distinguish Lutheran theology from the Catholic Church. But the way Protestant denominations have intensely labored to sever the spiritual from the somatic is hard to square with how this young preacher and his Pentecostal minister act as psychic conduits, channeling Jesus. Others, mostly women, soon join their trance-like state. The train might be heading to Paripe, but its passengers are traveling elsewhere. Able to undo the inwardness of the contemplative self, trance could be described as a social technology. As they reach their destination a bystander asks, “Was this Candomblé?”

Before arriving in Berlin, Virginia de Medeiros set up a constellation to visualize a hidden dynamic. The result yielded three words: africa, territory, and healing. A screening at Forum Brasil led the artist to Ilê Obá Sileké, the sole Candomblé temple of Germany, which welcomed her as abian, the novice “who undertakes a new journey.” Ìyá Agbára [Strength of Mothers, 2020], the film produced for the 11th Berlin Biennale, revolves around the portraits of eight female affiliates of the Ilê Obá Sileké. The work emerged from collective exercises with the temple community, in particular with Virginia Borges and Gil DuOdé, who share authorship with de Medeiros. Shot in 16mm, Ìyá Agbára expands the indexicality of film to include somatic and spiritual registers. White eschatology preaches the gospel of individuated autonomy; Borges, DuOdé, and de Medeiros work in the opposite direction.

Ana Teixeira Pinto

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