Kmedeus

I wanna go to Sao Vicente, it looks amazing chill. Also weird. A place where everyone is an artist, everyone has a passion, everyone is creative. People are never introduced as storekeeper, but storekeeper/cinephile, their engagement with and contribution to the cultural life of the island is acknowledged and validated.

Kmedeus is a film memorialising a ‘street lunatic’ who made outsider art in Sao Vicente. Since little remains of his life or his origins, the film is made of interviews with people who knew him, who were influenced by his art, and tributes to him in dance and painting.

It is equally a film about Sao Vicente, a place Kmedeus drew inspiration from and where he found a community of sorts. I think that is what is heartening about this film. This is a film made by the artists of Sao Vicente to acknowledge the contribution this mentally ill, homeless person made to their community and their work. That despite the immovable maladies of this world, a place could be made in the community for everyone, and their differences respected and accepted.

Antonio Tavares, a local musician, dancer and choreographer, links the unique perspective of Kmedeus (a name that means Eat God), with the movement to decolonialise both the art and the mind of the artist. In a world where sanity and sense is defined and handed down by the oppressor, there is resistance in insanity and nonsense. In speaking in his own individual voice, Kmedeus was an inspiration to Tavares to reach for an authentic sense of self.

While art is so often used to immortalise the artist, street art, like the street artist, is so often transient. Much of Kmedeus’s art has been whitewashed over, or lost or unrecorded. Instead we trace its ghost as it moves through the work of others.

I think Kmedeus’s art meant so much to the people of Sao Vicente because it chimed with character of the place. It was at once playful, with a sincere searching for meaning. Fused with syncretism, yet wholly authentic to itself.

And weird. Sao Vicente seems very weird.