Jota Mombaça’s “A CERTAIN DEATH/THE SWAMP”
              Harry Burke
              In the final chapter of her 2016 book In the Wake, Christina Sharpe meditates on the weather, which for her signifies the “pervasive climate” of antiblackness in the modern world. Her argument is shaped by the insight that “new modes of writing, new modes of making-sensible” are needed to account for the quotidian violence of the colonial present. Jota Mombaça’s “A CERTAIN DEATH/THE SWAMP” builds on these contentions through a series of artworks that address the weather and, when viewed together, make up an atmosphere. While preparing for the show, Mombaça researched the disastrous flash floods that struck western Germany and neighboring countries in 2021, as well as Berlin’s origins as swampland, drained in the 1700s. What would it mean, the artist asked herself, for cities to turn back into swamps? until the last morning (2023), made in collaboration with Anti Ribeiro, Darwin Marinho, and Luana Peixe, is her oblique answer to this. The looping, fourteen-minute video studies the mangroves and marshlands of Pará in her native Brazil. Its long, pensive shots of clouds recall John Constable’s cloud studies of the 1820s. For the Romantic painter, clouds exteriorized emotions and symbolized modernity’s scientific advances. To today’s eye, they also refract …

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