Rosana Paulino


Untitled, from the series the Musa Paradisiaca series






75 x 104 cm


Digital print on canvas, acrylic and stitching

Credits: Artist’s collection

In Musa paradisiaca, Rosana Paulino presents a large canvas composed of smaller sections of fabric sewn together using black thread and visible stitching. In some sections of the large canvas, the artist includes images transferred from 19th-century historical photographs and intervened prints to deconstruct, reconstruct and unveil the history of slavery in Brazil. The canvas also includes two sections printed with the words “Yes, nós temos,” alluding to a popular carnival song composed by Braguinha with lyrics that refer to the exuberance of a tropical Brazil through the trope of the banana. In the center of the composition is an image of a Portuguese tile mosaic with a red stain and threads of the same color hanging from the canvas. 

Paulino’s work has focused primarily on unveiling the violence inflicted on the bodies of women of African descent, and the silencing and invisibility to which they were subjected during centuries of slavery in Brazil. Her work deals with the legacy of the slave trade in her country of origin to make this history visible, but also to repair it. In Musa Paradisiaca, Paulino includes two photographs in which enslaved women appear with their children in situations of violence. In the first, the violence is nuanced by the type of photograph, since the “picturesque portrait” of enslaved people sought to present an appearance of well-being. In the second, a photograph duplicated and reversed by Paulino, the forced labor that women and children had to do on the plantations becomes more evident. The images taken from color prints show the fruits and flowers of the banana plant—one of Brazil’s many export products—grown on the plantations where the enslaved people were forced to work. The Portuguese tiles with the red stain and the threads hanging down allude to the greatness of the empire that subjected the Afro people for so long, and to the torture of captivity and the violence of forced labor. By stitching, enlarging, and intervening historical images, Paulino forces us to think about this legacy.