Middle East & Africa

Kiluanji Kia Henda
Redefining The Power (with Didi Fernandes)

Redefining The Power (with Didi Fernandes) is a metaphor of how reflections on history and society during the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002) are largely ignored within the canon of history. Resulting from Kia Henda’s research on the Fortaleza de São Miguel built by the Portuguese in the 15th century in Luanda, Angola, the Redefining The Power series was created 10 years after the Angolan Civil War as a reflection on the reactivation of memory surrounding historical monuments. Through this work, the artist aims to replace the memorialized colonial heroes and war symbols through re-appropriation, determining traumatized lands as forms of resistance and pride. Kia Henda seeks out empty monument pedestals and invites loved ones and celebrated Angolan personalities to participate in stylized performances— the figure portrayed here, Didi Fernandes, is an Angolan designer and activist. These photographs freeze the moments of creativity as actions of reclaiming once abandoned public spaces. At once true, documentary and fictional, this series brings together the historical context with our contemporary moment.

A self-taught artist, Kiluanji Kia Henda employs a strong sense of humour in his work, which often hones in on themes of identity, politics, and perceptions of post-colonialism and modernism in Africa. Practicing in the fields of photography, video, and performance, Kiluanji Kia Henda has tied his multidisciplinary approach to a sharp sense of criticality. In complicity with historical legacy, Kia Henda realizes the process of appropriation and manipulation of public spaces, and the different representations that form part of collective memory.