In 1911, during the Universal Races Congress in London, the representative from Brazil presented a painting titled “Ham’s Redemption” (A redenção de Cam). Featuring a black grandmother, a mestizo mother, a white father and their light-skinned infant at the center of the frame, the painting became a symbol of the racial whitening ideology in Brazil throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. More than 110 years later, creator Mariana Luiza—who identifies as Black—critiques Brazil’s racial legacy and offers a poetic, counter-colonial answer to the painting in an immersive installation.
Redemption transforms space, image, sound and scent into a labyrinth. At the start of the journey, the virtual space is flooded with archival footage. As the exploration continues, we find ourselves in the dark and deep hollow of Kalunga, the center of the earth. Through a mirror of water, we find an alternative destination of “Ham’s Redemption” and meet the cosmovison of the Bantu people, ancestors to most Africans in Brazil. We feel the smoke, the magma, the skin and the merging of life and death. Here the experience of time is no longer linear; rather, as the Bantu people believe, it curves and repeats.