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Circus Architecture: Ângela Ferreira’s ‘Zip Zap Circus School’

Ângela Ferreira, Hortas na Auto- estrada: Jardins Portugueses (Highway Vegetable Patches: Portuguese Gardens), 2006, series of colour photographs, 70 × 90cm, detail. Image courtesy the artist and Galeria Filomena Soares, Lisbon
Filipa Oliveira examines Ângela Ferreira’s anti-monumental approach to history through a study of her itinerant project Zip Zap Circus School. The in-depth, research-based projects of Ângela Ferreira propose a rereading of the modern canon through the lens of postcolonial discourse. Born in Mozambique while 
it still was a Portuguese colony, Ferreira moved to South Africa in 1975 to study art, and has since been based in Portugal, Mozambique and South Africa. Her work explores experiences of transmission and exchange between both continents; for example, her photographic series Hortas na Auto-estrada: Jardins Portugueses (Highway Vegetable Patches: Portuguese Gardens, 2006) reflects on the emigration of thousands of Portuguese Africans to the ‘Metropolis’ (as Portugal was historically referred to in the colonial territories) after the end of colonial rule. The lack of resources and the impossibility of owning any sort of land once in Portugal, let alone the potential to cultivate it, has led immigrants to appropriate abandoned plots adjacent to highway crossroads just outside major urban centres — illegal allotments that signify the possibility of land ownership 
as well as a sort of unintended urban agrarian reform.