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Gonçalo Mabunda

Artist 240

Gonçalo Mabunda

Anti - War Activist


Gonçalo Mabunda (born 1975) is a Mozambican artist who specializes in sculpture and defines himself as an anti-war activist. His materials include AK-47s, land mines, rocket launchers, soldiers' boots and helmets, and tanks. Mabunda says on his artistic mission, “Trying to represent each [person] who died with this same material ... If we destroy the weapons, the same weapon's not going to kill any more."

Mabunda draws on the collective memory of his country, Mozambique, which has only recently emerged from a long and terrible civil war. He works with arms recovered in 1992 at the end of the sixteen-year conflict that divided the region.

Mabunda began his work in the context of a project implemented since 1995, by the Christian Council of Mozambique (CCM) that has been scouring the country and collecting weapons from individuals and communities after a civil war that lasted almost twenty years.

In this project some weapons are destroyed while others are deactivated and given to men and women like Mabunda, to sculpt into art. Some 800,000 weapons have been collected since the CCM launched this project, called Transforming Guns into Hopes.

Mabunda is a partner artist of the African Artists for Development, an organisation that backs community development projects associated with works by contemporary artists. Gonçalo Mabunda uses Kalashnikovs, rockets, pistols, and shell casing in order to make anthropomorphic figures out of the deconstructed weapons. By turning weapons into lifelike figures, Mabunda literally turns death into life. The figurines are also representative of the over 1 million people killed during his country's civil war.

Mabunda has also lost relatives during the war, which makes working with and deconstructing weapons used during the 16-year war more important for him.

He makes thrones and masks out of these deactivated weapons used during the Mozambique Civil War. The masks are based on traditional Sub-Saharan African masks, however, the original twist on the art form by creating them out of weapons is unique to Mabunda.

Representing power, Mabunda's thrones mock how the traditional power rests on weapons. By using weapons, Mabunda's work carries the message of how further violence can be prevented, and that destroying the weapons of war can be done in an aesthetic and artistic way.

Mabunda's art directly challenges the absurdity of war. The deactivated weapons of war carry strong political connotations, yet the beautiful objects he creates also convey a positive reflection on the transformative power of art and the resilience and creativity of African civilian societies.

Sources Consulted…/en…/us_56255056e4b02f6a900d59a6/amp…/29-goncalo-mabu…/overview/


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