Teresa Firmino is a Johannesburg-based artist, whose work examines the construction of dominant histories and the absences they present. Firmino delves into the role of memory as the main repository of information for the act of rewriting histories. This act of rewriting unfolds through the artist’s multi-disciplinary process, where the layered interior scenes of her paintings alloy with acts of resistance to the hegemony of History that unfold in her performances.
Firmino was born (1993) in Pomfret, a former asbestos mine camp-turned military base in the North West province, where a group of former Angolan soldiers, who fought for the SANDF’s infamous 32 Battalion unit were relocated at the end of the South African Border War (1989). Her work surfaces from the collective trauma of the Pomfret community and seeks to investigate the ongoing trauma African people continue to experience in the wake of colonization, civil war, and neo-liberal white supremacy.
Teresa Firmino studied at the University of the Witwatersrand (BAFA, 2016) (MFA, 2018) in Johannesburg. Recent solo presentations include: pseudo Restitution, World Art gallery, Cape Town (2019); Children of a Lesser God, Mmarthouse, Johannesburg (2019); The War At Home, Everard Read, Johannesburg (2019); Emergence, Mmarthouse, Johannesburg(2018); Pomfret community stories, Mmarthouse, Johannesburg (2018); Thou art women, Mmarthouse, Johannesburg (2018); The people’s exchange, IDC gallery, Johannesburg (2018); Now and then, Trent Gallery, Pretoria (2018); Protagonist: Artists in Response to Sexual Violence, Studio Fracture, Johannesburg (2018). In 2020, Firmino presented Black Melancholy/ Negotiating Trauma at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair, a series of paintings grappling with the ways women of the Pomfret community have survived, beyond the traumas enacted on their bodies.