Grada Kilomba performance Boca 2021 © Bruno Simao

Grada Kilomba: O Barco / The Boat

29 Sep – 20 Oct 2022


Thursday 13 Oct 2022 at 17.00

Friday 14 Oct 2022 at 13.00

Edmond J. Safra
Fountain Court

Interdisciplinary artist Grada Kilomba brings her critically- acclaimed installation O Barco / The Boat, 2021 to our courtyard.

Displayed in the UK for the first time, the large-scale installation and performance will be specially presented by Somerset House on the occasion of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair’s tenth anniversary.  

The striking 32-metre-long installation is composed of 140 wood blocks, the configuration of which outlines the lower ‘hold’ of an historical European slave ship. Charred by the artist, the blocks contain poems in 6 different languages, intricately inscribed into their textured surfaces. Directly addressing the history of European maritime expansion and colonisation, the piece invites the audience to consider forgotten stories and identities. 

Alongside its sculptural elements, the artwork includes live performance, combining song, music, and dance, with music production by award-winning writer and musician Kalaf Epalanga. Designed and directed by the artist, the live ensemble brings new meaning to O Barco / The Boat, both acknowledging memories of the past and looking towards the future.

Two free performances will take place in the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court on Thursday 13 October at 17.00 and Friday 14 October at 13.00. 

Grada Kilomba is a Portuguese, Berlin-based transdisciplinary artist, whose work draws on memory, trauma, gender and post-colonialism, interrogating concepts of knowledge, power and violence.  

The third in the Morgan Stanley Lates at Somerset House with The Courtauld series will feature the closing of O Barco / The Boat. Visitors will have after-hours access to Somerset House and The Courtauld, with free events and activities offered on site themed around the work and Amba Sayal Bennett’s commission.  


Kindly supported by

Goodman Gallery Logo

With additional support from Lonti Ebers and Mercedes Vilardell 

O Barco / The Boat was commissioned by BoCA - Biennial of Contemporary Arts, Lisbon, and co-produced with MAAT Lisbon and Kunsthalle Baden Baden.