Yonamine: Dipoló

The Abrons Arts Center is proud to present the exhibition Dipoló, the U.S. premiere of Angolan artist Yonamine, in the Charles E. Culpeper Gallery. Yonamine’s socially committed voice stands as a critical inquiry into the signs, ideas, and practices that constitute the ideological landscape of the global age. His output addresses the relationship between contemporary African iconography, colonial history, and identity politics. Bringing together his native country’s mythologies and Western narratives, he examines both the traumatic experience of Angola’s everyday life and the fragmented collective unconscious of a diasporic world.

Katchokwe Style (2009) is one of Yonamine’s most well-known works. He has covered the gallery floor with layers of sandbags, ranging in color from gold to brown, on which he has silkscreened portraits of different politicians, including George Bush and Samora Machel, and some Kinguilas, the women who exchange money in the streets). The installation poignantly evokes African and international events by replicating the setting of armed conflicts, of which the trench is a trademark, as well as the food supplies sent to African countries as humanitarian aid, two scenarios commonly associated with Africa that nevertheless result from past and present imperialist policies.

Yonamine has often employed the same silkscreening technique on newspaper pages, as is the case of Dipoló, the poster-like installation that he is showing in the Charles E. Culpeper Gallery’s display cases. “Dipoló” is an expression that refers to a diplomatic bag, and that is used by locals as a by-word for drug-running. Appropriately, Yonamine has assembled an engaging pop-driven imagery comprising brands of consumer goods like “Omo” and popular figures such as Razbula, the nickname of a young man whose source of income is the recycling of a state-owned national daily. With this work, Yonamine represents the grassroots lifestyle of most Angolans, who have to continuously develop underground, community strategies in order to live in a post-conflict society like that of Angola.

Yonamine was born in Luanda, Angola, in 1975, and currently lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal. Recent solo exhibitions include a Project Room at Zona Maco Sur in Mexico City,Control Z (Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Lisbon, 2009), Tuga Sauve (3+1 Arte Contemporânea, Lisbon, 2008), and Necessitat de Veure (Display Lab, Tarragona, Spain, 2007). He has participated in several group exhibitions, including the 29th São Paulo Biennial (2010), the X Havana Biennial (2009), the Sharjah Biennial 9 (2009), Listen Darling… The World is Yours (Ellipse Foundation Art Centre, Cascais, Portugal, 2008), Check List Luanda Pop (African Pavilion, 52nd Venice Biennale, 2007) and the 1st Luanda Triennial (2006-07).

Dipoló is organized by Miguel Amado, the 2010-2011 AIRspace curator-in-residence at the Abrons Arts Center.