Art and Decolonization: Afterall MASP

André Mesquita, Mark Lewis

Contexts / 03.12.2018

Image: Rosina Becker do Valle, Índio da floresta (Caboclo), 1963

Afterall and Museu de Arte de São Paulo are working together to explore new artistic and curatorial practices that explicitly question and critique colonial legacies in art, curation and critical art writing. It is intended that the events promoted by this collaboration will stimulate further discussion and research on decolonization, de-colonial and post-colonial studies.

The first seminar of this new partnership explored the topic ofArt and Decolonization. Taking place on 18–19 October 2018, the seminar provided a forum for cultural theorists, curators and artists from South America, Africa, the United States and Europe to raise questions and formulate proposals for the reinterpretation of exhibitions and museum collections in non-canonical and decolonised ways.

These debates contribute to the development of projects at MASP, centred on the theme of ‘Histories’ (Histórias); and in Afterall around understanding the importance of global artistic practices. In Portuguese, histórias is an open, plural, unfinished and non-totalizing concept, encompassing historical reports of a political, economic and social character, and also personal and fictional narratives. Questions of race, gender, indigeneity, activism and sexuality are critical to this research. The seminars hosted by MASP and Afterall are platforms to share and develop conceptual and theoretical tools that in turn will enable new reflections on the MASP collection and Afterall’s archive.

In this article you can find the recordings of the event, which was coordinated by: Mark Lewis, André Mesquita, Adriano Pedrosa and Caroline Woodley in collaboration with Ana Bilbao and Yaiza Hernández Velázquez.

Speakers included Luciana Ballestrin, Bambi Ceuppens, Esther Gabara, Julieta González, Lewis R. Gordon, Yaiza Hernández Velázquez, Candice Hopkins, Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Estefanía Peñafiel Loaiza, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Suely Rolnik, Shela Sheikh and Rolando Vázquez.

In ‘Coloniality is Far from Over, and So Must Be Decoloniality’, the first of a series of essays brought together by this collaboration, Walter D. Mignolo writes ‘decolonial thinking strives to delink itself from the imposed dichotomies articulated in the West.’ He is describing here the necessary work of delinking our thought from Western narratives in order to affirm the modes of existence we want to preserve. Previously published in Afterall journal issue 43 this text is now also available in Portuguese at

A second seminar will be held at MASP on 15 and 16 October 2019. In 2020, Afterall and MASP will publish an anthology bringing together contributions from the seminar participants, newly commissioned writing, key texts and artworks drawn from the research that underpins this collaboration.

This collaboration is produced with the support of the British Academy and University of the Arts London.

In this video: Rolando Vásquez, Luciana Ballestrin and Nelson Maldonado-Torres

In this video: Julieta González, Yaiza Hernández Velázquez and Sheena Wagstaff

In this video: Lewis R. Gordon

In this video: Shela Sheikh, Estefanía Peñafiel Loaiza and Elizabeth A. Povinelli

In this video: Candice Hopkins, Esther Gabara and Suely Rolnik

In this video: Bambi Ceuppens