Queer Artists Bring New Perspectives to Mozambique

Curators Onyịnye Alheri and Carolina Policarpo display collaborations between artists from Mozambique, Nigeria, and Angola.

Connecting natural and spiritual beings, the works of Ana Machava emphasize the struggle of queer women and their need for safer spaces. In her photographs colors are used to frame nature as the essence of human existence and divinity that is woman. The photographs are taken from multiple angles and capture the neutral facial expressions of those living and reuniting with other beings.

Géssica Stagno presents viewers with an assertive play of strong, vibrant colors to portray the journey of a being who frees themself of fear and through those strong tones seeks acceptance and a place of belonging. Combining oil and acrylic paint, Stagno establishes the narrative through a holistic perspective, bringing several emotions to a single image: pain, joy, and love.

Yuck Miranda starred in an epic performance: Zita. They played the character Zita, who conveys pains that people from LGBTQIA communities confront daily. Miranda placed great emphasis in their performance on the violence people face by coming out as “different” from what is accepted by society. A mix of music, theater, and song, the performance reflects the violence of relatives who believe that LGBTQIA people do not deserve respect, resulting in a person receiving insults throughout their life.

In other corners of the space, viewers could connect to headsets and listen to the poetic performance of Eliana N’Zualo in the film Love Letters for Badly Behaved Girls. Shown on a screen, it combined music and poetry to tell the stories of fearless women who envision and raise other women and abhor violence.

The multiple perspectives of the exhibition allow for diverse and pertinent, expansive and eye-opening readings as confrontations are established. Embracing art as a means of communication is to uphold the objective of generating reflection, focusing on the relationships that can be established within the most varied disciplines of a specific field. This exhibition demonstrates the potential of various art forms coexisting in the same space, one complementing the other. Although each of them has its own way of establishing its narratives and showing its perspectives on things, the hopeful vision that the artists collectively convey is that of a tolerant world, one that is without violence and based on mutual respect.

According to Afrobarometer in 2016, a non-governmental organization founded in 1999 to collect statistical data from over thirty-five countries in Africa, Mozambique is one of the ten most tolerant countries toward homosexuality. But clearly that is not enough: people from LGBTQIA communities continue to face violence and prejudice. Just to give you an idea, the legal criminalization of homosexuality was only revised in 2014. That’s to say, there is still much to be done to guarantee the protection and rights of queer communities.

LAMBDA – the Mozambican Association for the Defense of Sexual Minorities, one of the largest organizations fighting for the protection and rights of queer people in Mozambique, has highlighted the main issues the community faces. Most notably, these are societal stigma and hindered access to healthcare, education, and employment. LAMBDA diretor Roberto Paulo points out how unsettling this finding is, considering that every human being should have the right to choose how they want to live without fear of social exclusion.

As psychoanalyst Joyce McDougall wrote: “every human being has the right to belong to both sexes, nurturing the fantasy of sexually possessing and simultaneously identifying with men and women.” To guarantee this equality we need to create public policies that aim to combat discrimination of all kinds, increase the participation of minorities in political processes around access to education and employment, and correct all forms of inequality, prejudice based on origin, race, sex, color, age, and any other form of discrimination. This is the perspective that the queer artists brought to Sem Sombras.

Sem Sombras was the winner of an international call launched by apexart in 2022/2023. The exhibition opened at the Sabura Cultural Center, street José Mateus #185, on February 25 and could be visited until March 25, 2023.

Lorna Zita is a cultural manager and writer based in Mozambique. She was a student in C&’s mentoring program in 2022.

Translation: Sara Hanaburgh