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Evidence for colonizer dys-anaesthesia #1, #2, #3, #4… - Interview with Oscar Malta

"Every colonised people - that is, every people within which an inferiority complex has taken shape as a result of the suppression of local cultural originality - is confronted with the language of the civilising nation, that is, the culture of the metropolis. The colonised will have moved further away from his jungle the more he has made the cultural values of the metropolis his own. He will be the whiter, the more he will have rejected his blackness, his jungle. "
Franz Fanon - black leather white mask

All of us, once in our lives, have to read Franz Fanon, I am firmly convinced! It is one of those texts that glue you to the words, that make you reason, make you discuss with others... they open your mind! It is not mere philosophy or psychology, it is education!
Studying the art of a specific people, of a specific tradition, means also and above all taking into consideration its history.

Latin America is a huge and rare continent. The peoples who inhabit it are diverse, but they are all united by a precise moment in history, colonisation.
And it is history itself that tells us that Portugal and Spain from 1500 to about mid-1800 colonised the countries of South America.
At that time, the large local labour force employed was enslaved.
The civil society comprised, in hierarchical order: the population of Portuguese (or Spanish) origin, the Creoles followed by the mestizos, the last rung was occupied by blacks and Indians.
In Brazil, half of the population (about one million individuals) were of African origin, enslaved.
Until 1800, when independence rebellions began in almost all Latin countries.
Brazil is the only country where independence took place completely peacefully, with Pedro I, son of the king of Portugal, proclaiming himself king of Brazil, forcing the Portuguese troops to retreat. Hence began the period of decolonisation.

But there is a big difference between decolonising a territory and decolonising a people.
"There is a psychological phenomenon that consists in believing in an opening of the world to the extent that frontiers are broken."   (F. Fanon)

Territorial decolonisation happens quickly, the troops withdraw and the territory returns to the hands of its people.
Decolonising the colonised people's way of acting and thinking is much more laborious work.
Just think of the language...the language of the colonisers has been imposed, it is used and taught, making the colonised believe that to be White, one must have mastered that language.
"In a group of young Antillans, he who expresses himself well, who has mastered the language, is greatly feared; one must beware of him, he is an almost-White." (F.Fanon)

This phenomenon, for example, is observed in all colonised peoples of the world.
But how then to get out of it?
Contemporary art becomes an essential tool for many artists who conduct their research in countries that have suffered colonisation.
These artists become concrete spokespersons for what a colonised people has suffered psychologically, succeeding in bringing to light the cultural 'rescue' dynamics for the people themselves.

We, with the work of #Brazilianart, strongly believe in the work of these artists and have realised that this issue is currently very much felt and developed in Latin America, becoming the focus of most of the artists we interviewed.

One of these is Oscar Malta.
Originally from northeast Brazil, Oscar has travelled extensively, but never lost touch with his roots. He currently has an artistic residence in Guimaraes in Portugal, where he is attending a doctorate and where he arrived not by chance.
It was a specific choice, Portugal being the country that colonised Brazil, but more unusual is the name of the street where Oscar lives in Guimaraes, namely avenida Don Alfonso Henrique, the king who founded Portugal.
"The fact of moving to Portugal, choosing a street with this name and working with the theme of colonisation is not accidental...I cannot work without having a connection in reality."

In addition, the city has a museum with a private collection of over 1,800 pieces of colonial lore, a collection that is photographed and used by Oscar to make his 'mushroom publications', small artist's books containing images taken by Oscar that are placed inside larger books in the museum's library, so that when anyone picks up the book, they find inside it a small work of Oscar's that tells the story of colonisation.
"One day, when the visitor casually opens the book, he will find my work inside".


#brasilianart (26).jpg

His artistic figure is multifaceted, but has one point in common, which is that of the image, both as photography and audiovisual. In addition to photography becoming a research tool, Oscar is often engaged in new investigations. Discoveries that lead him to theorise various issues relating to anti-colonialism.
His latest work focuses on the discovery of some photographs depicting the first Latin American indigenous peoples. Studying these images, the element that aroused Oscar's interest was that all these images lead to a single archive in France, that of the Quebronli Museum in Paris, where the entire collection of the Museum of Man was moved during Jacques Chirac's presidency.

From that moment on, Oscar begins his personal battle to get these photos back to their rightful owners, to return them to Brazil. But not just any time...
The newly elected president of Brazil has conceived a Ministry of Original Peoples, Oscar's ambition is to be able to bring back these photographs on the day of the inauguration of this ministry.
Moreover, being from Pernanbuco, and very close to the indigenous people of the Fulni-ô (the only indigenous group in north-east Brazil that has managed to keep alive and active their language - Ia-tê - and the ritual they call Ouricuri, which is currently performed in total secrecy), his wish is to create together with them a Museum of the Image of the Original Peoples.

In this way, from the beginning of his doctorate to the present day, all of Oscar's exhibitions always have a link to his objective, which leads him to title all the exhibitions in the same way: "Ensaios para desanestesia do colonizador #1 (#2, #3, #4...)" (rehearsals for the coloniser's dis-anesthesia #1, #2, #3, #4...)

The discoveries I have made go much further and are very profound, for example I came to know by finding some newspaper articles that almost all the indigenous people were christened Maria and Manuel (typical European names), or that one of these indigenous women died from an infection contracted because the colonising captor had removed her labial disc and sewn her lips together badly."

Some of this work has already been presented in Brazil in his solo exhibition 'Ponto de nao retorno', (Point of no return) which is also the title of one of his most recent films.
Yes, because the psychological colonisation of a people leads to what we are all experiencing today: from economic problems to social and ecological issues. It becomes a problem for all of us, and brings the world to a real point of no return.
But nobody tells us or teaches us. It has to be us, sensitive enough, to sense the problem. And here art, once again, becomes a medium of social education for all.

I would like to write so much about Oscar Malta, tell about his 'skin I wear', the 'fronteiras' series and his books with glass pages.
But this is the #1 in my personal account of Oscar, whom I thank immensely for teaching us to use art as a tool to achieve a goal.

NAME OF THE ARTIST: Lucila Meirelles


VIDEO TITLE: What is no longer






CREDITS: Direction Lucila Meirelles; Soundtrack Cid Campos; Editing and Finishing Augusto Calçada; Realization FUNARTE – Ministério do Turismo

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