Conceived as a curatorial encounter between Luamba Muinga in Angola and Sara Carneiro in Mozambique, Are We Not Makers of History? is a publication that uses memory and identity to address a range of artistic concerns while connecting personal and social histories shaped by colonial forces. The curators call this project, the result of a digital residency titled Luso-Linkup facilitated by the Bag Factory (2020), an “impermanent assemblage” that gives texture to the sophisticated identities that emerge from those historical and ongoing events.
The publication features artists working across painting, performance, video, poetry, and reflective texts, who operate between historical analysis and futuring, and confront memory and the “temporal” through deeply personal narratives, which they tie into social histories shaped and affected by multiple forces. Artist Helena Uambembe, whose work points to a textured identity that has survived the pressures of displacement across Angola and South Africa, delivers a body of work that breaks the mould of narrowly defined identities predicated on national boundaries. Her performance work is an invocation to her ancestry stretching from Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Uambembe work is often speaking to the events that led to Pomfret, a small town situated in the North West from which she hails. Pomfret features a high Portuguese speaking population made up of retired apartheid South Africa’s 32 Battalion. This elite force is of Angolan and South Africa soldiers who fought in the border wars during the apartheid period, most of whom long to return home, but have found themselves on the wrong side of history. Helena, although, connects Pomfret to a longer line of ancestry.