For Mozambique (Model no. 2 for screen-orator-kiosk celebrating the post-independence utopia)
Courtesy of Galeria Filomena Soares, Lisbon
For Mozambique captures two historical moments of great social and political optimism: the first being the period following the Russian revolution in the 1920s, which is denoted through the formal physical structure of the work; and the second being the euphoria surrounding the independence of Mozambique in the mid 1970s, referenced through the two films included in the piece.
The structure itself is based on a 1922 design for an agitprop1 kiosk by the Latvian-Russian artist Gustav Klucis, who was an important exponent of Russian Constructivism in the late 1910s and early 1920s. The agitprop kiosk was a multifunction structure used widely in the Russian Communist Party in the 1920s to influence and mobilize public opinion within the volatile period following the Russian Revolution. Often nomadic and demountable, the temporary kiosks were placed in the streets during special events and offered a range of functions, including bookstands, loudspeakers, screens and platforms for speakers, sites for posters, and screens for film projections.
Ferreira uses her agitprop structure to present two films which capture the celebratory spirit of post-independence Mozambique (1975-77). The short film Makwayela, directed by the French documentary filmmaker Jean Rouch, shows Mozambican factory workers articulating their independence from colonial rule through song and dance; whereas Dylan's song lyrics imagine a hedonistic atmosphere in Mozambique, where he sees himself 'among the people living free'. The structure becomes a manifestation of the celebratory utopian atmosphere in post-colonial Mozambique, and also a monument to the feelings of hope held for the future of the country at this time, prior to the political shift towards Marxism and the civil war, which would grip the country for the next two decades.
 The term agitprop originated in Bolshevist Russia and is a contraction of the words agitation and propaganda. In Russian, the word for propaganda does not have the same negative connotations that it has in English, and refers merely to a general dissemination of ideas.
© 2008 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.