This participation of Gio Lourenço, born in Angola in 1987, who came to Portugal as a child in the 1990s, resulted from an invitation by Dutch architect Afaina de Jong, whose creative studio - Afarai - based in Amsterdam, works in the areas of design strategy.
"A Preta", based on Gio Lourenço's memories as a child living in the Bairro do Fim do Mundo, in Cascais, encapsulates an intense experience of the artist, who had to walk daily between home and school, facing a fearsome black dog on the way.
The project of the Netherlands Pavilion, installed in the Giardini, is entitled "Who is We?", is curated by Guus Beumer, director of the Het Nieuwe Institute, and is curated by Francien van Westrenen, from the same institute, and those responsible for the exhibition project are Afaina de Jong and Debra Solomon.
Among the works included in the exhibition project of the Dutch Pavilion at the Biennale will be "A Preta", not in live performance, but in video.
"Looking at Bairro Fim do Mundo, a neighborhood of Cape Verdeans, São Tomense and some Angolans, I remember that daily walk between home territory and towards school. It was a fear I had, of facing that dog, a symbolic animal that separated two worlds, even in the architectural plan", he explained, in an interview to Lusa news agency.
Due to the pandemic, the biennial organization asked not to present live 'performances', said Gio Lourenço to Lusa, indicating that he had to adapt "A Preta", of 15 minutes, to the video format, originally with music by Luís Fernandes, scenography by Francisco Vidal, and photography by Sofia Berberan, also responsible for the artistic consultancy.
"When I was invited to participate in the Venice Biennale, I was astonished, I didn't expect anything. I was very happy, speechless. It is very prestigious", he commented to Lusa, especially because, as he underlined, after the contact with the Dutch creators to present "A Preta", the joint work has had continuity.
Gio Lourenço, who won a young creator scholarship from the National Center for Culture, and did an internship at CEM - Center in Movement, created the performance "A Preta", based on childhood memories, as a final work, which he presented in 2017, at Hangar space, in Lisbon.
The performance has been transformed and readapted through collaborations with other artists in the area of music, set design and photography, namely Francisco Vidal, Luís Fernandes and Sofia Berberan. It was presented in Elvas, at the A Salto Festival, and also at the Periferias Festival, the following year.
The meeting with Afaina de Jong would happen in 2019, when the Dutch architect did a residency in Lisbon, to present a project in the Eritage space, entitled "Space of Other", a spatial and 'performative' installation that explores the relationships between space and identity, in the context of gentrified cities.
In her work, Afaina de Jong assumes herself as "an artist with a feminist practice that encourages social change inspired by the representation of cultural movements traditionally not represented in architecture," according to a description of her studio in Amsterdam.
Resident actor at Teatro Griot, in Lisbon, Gio Lourenço is part of the cast for the company's show "O Luminoso Afogado", an adaptation of Al Berto's work, to be presented on May 27th, at Fórum Cultural José Manuel Figueiredo, in Moita, Setúbal district.
The 'performer', dancer and actor has had collaborations in the area of cinema, namely in the cast of the short film "Arriaga", by Guinean director Welket Bungué, which was in national competition at the IndieLisboa Festival, in 2019.
He also participated in the Luso-Angolan film "The Island of Dogs", by Jorge António, and in the documentary "The Place You Occupy", by Pedro Filipe Marques.
He has worked with multidisciplinary creators such as Rogério de Carvalho, Zia Soares, Mónica de Miranda and João Fiadeiro, among others.
The Venice Architecture Biennale will open its doors on May 22, with safety rules to contain the pandemic, and an expanded program of exhibitions, publications, meetings, shows, and broadcasting of the installation of the national pavilions.
Despite the difficult situation Italy is currently facing, in a pandemic context, the organization has decided to go ahead with this edition of the biennial - the 17th International Architecture Exhibition -, forced to postpone from 2020 to this year, and which should run until next November 21st.
Portugal will be officially represented through a project created by the depA studio, a collective from Porto, whose program will consist of a cycle of debates to be held between Venice, Lisbon and Porto, which has already begun, and an exhibition on the theme "In Conflict", to be presented at the Palazzo Giustinian Lolin in Venice.