Marvin Luvualu António at Kunstverein Braunschweig

Artist: Marvin Luvualu António

Exhibition title: Yellow Solar Human

Curated by: Miriam Bettin

Venue: Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany

Date: March 3 – May 13, 2018

Photography: Stefan Stark / all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Kunstverein Braunschweig

I’m getting better at not lying to myself. I don’t want to lie. I’m a worshipper. Yet I’ve poured my energy to access the divine into the wrong churches. My idols as church, the internet as church, mostly the internet as church. So full, so vibrant, so sick, so disengaged from reality. I decided to break the cycle and when I did, it happened.

“It” happened when I talked to my dead mother, when I sought guidance from an elder, when I realized I was my own church.

Has church stopped being physical? Personal? Political? Loving?

By church I mean us.

I am black faith embodied traversing white lands looking for my brethren.

To prepare, I’m going to pray for me first and in my private church, I see water and I hear the sound of

a dormant priest waiting to be awakened.

Praise black faith embodied,

Yellow Solar Human.

– Marvin Luvualu António

The solo exhibition at the Kunstverein Braunschweig is the first presentation of Toronto based artist Marvin Luvualu António’s works in Europe. His multimedia artistic practice brings together painting, video, sound, sculpture, and performance within complex environments. Thematically, his works speak to being of the African diaspora, to sexuality as well as to cultural and spiritual intersectionality. His narratives go beyond exoticism or speaking of the so-called “Other,” while also incorporating references to his own nomadic biography. By compounding disparate mediums and drawing from various cultural contexts, Marvin Luvualu António often creates transit zones: between territories, identities, bodies, and their movements through time and space. His materials are charged with written narratives. His fictional writings and references to literature–primarily science fiction–add a critical and political component to his installations. By doing so, he builds narrative landscapes that use storytelling to map his nomadic journeys and ultimately, write his own history. Mapping should be understood not only as a geographical act but also as a sociological, political, cultural, spiritual, and historical one. In that sense, his paintings, incorporating self-portraits, motifs from the Bakongo tribe, cosmological and spiritual symbols, as well as geographical outlines, are unique cartograms that trace these different storylines. One of the storylines that Marvin Luvualu António has taken up in his exhibition at the Kunstverein Braunschweig is spirituality. What does faith look like outside of institutional structures and places of worship? What if one’s own body becomes a private church? Is self-worship the key to a free and peaceful state of body and mind? In regards to dispossession in Black history and the continuous unmasking of racism in Europe and the United States, Marvin Luvualu António built a base where one might find security and retreat: the healing spirit of the element of water, the symbolic (Koi) fish of Japanese society and Christian iconography, and a solid three-sided pyramid in the center. It is a charged space that simultaneously guards and beckons. Flooded with water, access to the space is limited. Inevitably, the visitors have to keep a certain distance to the works and therefore accept the given safe zone.

When talking about faith, Marvin Luvualu António also reflects on the conditions of the exhibition’s production itself: Which parameters are certain and uncertain when communicating and planning site-specific works between Toronto and Braunschweig? What kind of fears and worries are accompanying the working process? In this vulnerability, Marvin Luvualu António sees a productive and driving force: Faith – Certainty – Renouncement are the decisive parameters.

As part of his exhibition Yellow Solar Human and in correspondence with the Christian Hope Church in Braunschweig, Marvin Luvualu António has developed an eponymous performance which uses the expansive installation in the Remise as its setting. A publication will accompany the exhibition.

Marvin Luvualu António (b. 1986) lives and works in Toronto. He has recently shown his works in solo exhibitions at Lyles & King, New York (2017); the Clint Roenisch Gallery, Toronto (2016); and the Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town (2015). In 2017, he was distinguished with the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts Prize and received the AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize scholarship in 2015.

Marvin Luvualu António, Priest (Yellow Solar Human), 2018, Installation view Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2018

Marvin Luvualu António, Someone killed a snake, Agent Bembe investigates, 2018, Installation view Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2018

Marvin Luvualu António, Priest (Yellow Solar Human), 2018, Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2018

Marvin Luvualu António, Untitled (Red Painting), 2017, Installation view Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2018

Marvin Luvualu António, Installation view Yellow Solar Human, Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2018

Marvin Luvualu António, Black Faith, 2018, Installation view Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2018

Marvin Luvualu António, Installation view, Yellow Solar Human (Detail), Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2018

Marvin Luvualu António, Installation view, Yellow Solar Human (Detail), Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2018

Marvin Luvualu António, Installation view, Yellow Solar Human (Detail), Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2018

Marvin Luvualu António, Installation view, Yellow Solar Human (Detail), Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2018

Marvin Luvualu António, Installation view, Yellow Solar Human (Detail), Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2018

Marvin Luvualu António, Untitled (Red Painting), 2017, Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2018

Marvin Luvualu António, Black Faith, 2018, Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2018

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