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Portuguese-Angolan Mónica de Miranda takes “ruins of the empire” to Shanghai photography festival

A photograph of the “ruins of the past left by the Portuguese empire” in São Tomé and Príncipe, by Portuguese-Angolan Mónica de Miranda, was selected for the exhibition at the Shanghai International Photography Festival, which started this Friday.


According to the festival's organization, the jury selected 175 works for the 16th Shanghai International Exhibition of Photographic Art, a list that only includes seven photographers based abroad.

Among the works chosen is 'All that burns melts into air', part of a research project on "the state of memory of the colonial empire in the urban fabric", said Mónica de Miranda to Lusa.

In previous works, the Portuguese-Angolan woman had already photographed "several structures left by the Portuguese in the city of Luanda" and "the memories that still remain" in the Mozambican capital, Maputo.

In the case of the gardens in São Tomé and Príncipe, "the images capture spaces that are being swallowed up by nature itself. There is a sense of regeneration, of the swallowed past and a new present being created", explained Mónica de Miranda.

In the archipelago, the photographer also captured the cinema of the capital, São Tomé, a colonial-era structure "rebuilt with Chinese money", which reflects "this Africa-Asia relationship, which is very present in our contemporary time".

The Portuguese-Angolan has already done a residency at the Red Gate Gallery, in Beijing, in 2018, but the Shanghai International Photography Festival is the first time that she participates in an Asian show.

"I hope it will be an opportunity to open doors for me to exhibit more in a region that I really like, in cultural and artistic terms", said Mónica de Miranda.

The photographer pointed out "the construction of landscapes, the human figure in relation to landscapes" and "the capture of the atmosphere of the place" as characteristics of her work with links to oriental art.

The Shanghai festival received nearly 53,100 works – a new record – submitted by over 4,300 photographers from 15 countries and China's 34 autonomous regions, provinces, municipalities and special administrative regions.

Mónica de Miranda says that the presence in Shanghai came about through an invitation from the organizers of the Dakar Biennale, in the capital of Senegal, in which the photographer participated in 2016.

The official exhibition of the Shanghai International Photography Festival will be on view until 13 November in an old wool and linen warehouse, converted into an event space, in the Yangpu area, next to the Huangpu River, which flows through the Chinese city.

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