There is a curious provocation in Nástio Mosquito artworks in how he directly confronts the viewer. His performances and videos place the artist himself centre stage, adopting different personae, and taking attitudes from his other experiences of working as an actor, presenter, singer and media impresario. His work is often described as confronting stereotypes of Africa and its people, which, while not untrue, is only part of the complex encounter we experience with his work. Mosquito plays with charisma and exoticism, with being funny and scary, and with being entertaining and awkward. We are always left never quite knowing if we are meeting the real Nástio Mosquito, and yet the works offer a glimpse of a future where we may have a certain freedom to be what we feel, beyond political correctness and the desire to be consumers of cultural difference.
3 CONTINENTS (EUROPE, AMERICA, AFRICA)
The video 3 Continents presents Mosquito delivering three consecutive speeches addressing the three continents of the title, each time with a homespun map of each place attached to a wall in the background. The delivery of the speeches are through an adopted persona that possesses a sort of confident naivety, pronouncing that he has “bought Europe” or “bought the US of A”, and then ending somewhat comically by giving up prematurely on the last speech, saying dismissively “fuck Africa”. The work offers a surreal reversal of the hegemonic gaze and its lingering imperialistic legacy towards the non-western world, in a way that is darkly ironic, funny and playfully confounding.
The video Nástia’s Manifesto offers us seventeen points to success. Adopting an alter ego named Nástia, a rather cocky Nástio Mosquito talks to us, offering advice points that are a confusing mix of profundity, misogyny and pseudo-managerial rhetoric. It is a sort of experimental mantra, bluntly telling us to either dismiss or follow some of the main social constructs in society, from aspiration, status and leadership, to education, religion and history. As Nástia proclaims at both the beginning and end, it is “hypocritical, ironic, and do not give a fuck.” (NH)