Six questions for
Kiluanji Kia Henda

Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Kiluanji Kia Henda.

Artist Kiluanji Kia Henda
Lives in Luanda, Angola

How do you describe your own art practice?

I work within an expanded, multidisciplinary field, anchored in photography and video but including large, sculptural installations as well. As a conceptual artist, I go after the stories that interest me, researching specific pasts in order to understand what it is that I consider necessary to look at, keep near, and help project into the future. I’m looking for precise ways of formulating the questions that need to be asked today.

Which question or theme is central in your work?

I grew up in a war-torn Angola, and this profound experience is present in all my work. I often address issues related to the aftermath of war, the globalized, imperialist world, and the processes of constructing political narratives. I’m interested in collective memory, and the spaces that we share, like urban public space, thinking about the ways in which different cultural backgrounds influence and integrate these spaces. There are so many unresolved issues from the past that need our attention in the present.

What was your first experience with art?

As a child I had access to pioneer video cameras that I used to stage little stories with my brothers and neighbors. These were probably my first attempts at creating my own works, but if I think about experiences of other people’s art, I would say that coming in close contact with the work of South African photojournalist John Liebenberg has influenced me deeply, as well as Angolan artist Paulo Kapela, who was a true force of nature and extremely generous. He used collage, mixed different media, created surreal layerings, all with a spiritual dimension to it. The experience of being in his studio will always stay with me.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

It might sound too general but it is definitely life itself. The long conversations with friends and strangers, and the travels that allow for constant changes of perspective.

What do you need in order to create your work?

I need what all artists need: a functioning art structure that includes galleries, institutions, museums, curators, collectors, critics, that can support my work. Apart from that, to actually do the work I only need a quiet space, my computer, some peace of mind, preferably being surrounded by human-free and/or human-made beauty, and a glass of wine.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

I enjoy working with young Angolan artists, who keep surprising me. Every year we put together the exhibition and independent platform Fuckin’ Globo in Luanda and it’s groundbreaking every time.

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