In memory we love – Helena Uambembe

2 Mar, 2023 - 27 Apr, 2023

From Tuesday to Friday. 12 pm to 7 pm

Saturday 11 am to 7 pm

An invitation of reflection and pause, In memory we love is a moment of gathering, community and continuation.

The work was conceptualized in a time of great shock and it is, for me, a reminder of the effects of loss and absence.

Beyond my own personal loss, the immediate reference point is the Pomfret community. It is a community that has been through loss caused by war, sickness, carelessness and violence, loss not only of life but also of home, country and self.

This exhibition is not looking at loss as an absence or from a point of sorrow but an attempt to understand and create room for continuation, connection, knowledge building and tradition.

For the Pomfret community, intimately knowing loss, the community became home and the ritual of funerals became a space to impart knowledge and build identity.

The wake, the funeral, and the process of mourning have become an opportunity to gather, and to reconnect. The simple act of reading one’s obituary where their life story is re-remembered, their full name recalled as well as the names of their mother and father, the ‘kimbu’ which they were born is recited, the number of children and if lucky the number grandchildren is counted, the places that they had lived, like the refugee camps: Bufalo, Rundu to Pomfret, Zeerust, Northern Cape, Katu becomes a mapping. Mapping of their lives’ location and a review of the collective memory and history, through that stories are re-remembered and retold, the ‘loss’, the ‘absence’, the ‘void’ is filled.

Through the ritual of mourning, the wake and funeral; language is re-spoken and archived; identity and self are reconnected through hymns sung in Umbundu, Chokwe, Ngangela and other languages spoken in Namibia and Angola.

For my first solo presentation in Angola I ask people to have a moment of pause, thought and wake with me about our not so distant past of war and transition not based on differences and location but that of what we share and I do not just mean trauma and loss. I hope that we use all these modes of being to find commonality, understand, community and continuation with love. With love we will understand that we are in a constant state of mourning; however, it is not just defined by sorrow and pain but by our choices to continue with hope, joy, song, defiance, the ability to transform and ultimately to Love.

Helena Uambembe

Artist bio