What inspired the concept behind this exhibition?
The exhibition was inspired by conversations I had with Touria and Camille while I was taking part in previous editions of the fair with my gallery, espace d’art contemporain 14N 61W (Martinique). At that time, 14N 61W was the only gallery located in the Caribbean taking part in the fair. We discussed how the fair would benefit from integrating more artists or entities from every corner of Afro-descendant communities in its selection and programming since the fair aims to promote Contemporary Art from Africa and its diaspora. So when Touria and Camille contacted me to curate a pop-up exhibition featuring artists with Afro-Caribbean backgrounds, I immediately accepted the challenge. With this exhibition, we’re hoping to invite viewers to consider another view of the collective unconscious about the Caribbean beyond its long-lasting postcard imagery.
How has the landscape of contemporary Caribbean art evolved over the last 10 years, and why do you think that is?
In the past decade though, many artists in the Caribbean and elsewhere have benefited from the global interest in “African, Afro Art”. A growing interest in cultural diversity and identity has drawn in audiences outside the region. For instance, the links between the Caribbean and North American artistic circles hold in particular the need for the first ones to multiply development opportunities and the desire of the second to defend a plural and extensive American culture. As such, the local cultural landscape has benefited from this increased interest in art in the region and the local ecosystems tend to be more and more interconnected with each other.
How do you think this exhibition about Caribbean artists fits into the wider mission of 1-54?
From my perspective, the conversation about art, culture, and more between the African continent and the Afro-diaspora in the Caribbean is already been established. It’s an ongoing discussion that started many decades ago with the concept of Negritude. African and Caribbean intellectuals continue to this day to feed the discussion with exchanges of experiences, support, and cooperation. In the Americas, the proximity of the Caribbean archipelago and the U.S. allows for more visibility and opportunities for the artists and also allows scholars, researchers, and art professionals to reach out and visit the region. This allows 1-54 to further its reach and to bridge with various art communities around the globe that comprise the African Diaspora, presenting the great wealth of their creative output.
How does it feel to spearhead the inaugural ‘1-54 Presents’ exhibition?
I consider it an honor to curate the inaugural 1-54 Presents project. It’s a huge responsibility and I hope the result will not disappoint.
What’s next for you?
There are a few things on the horizon, but it’s too early to talk about them. When I’m not curating or doing other art collaborations, I focus on maintaining espace d’art contemporain 14N 61W as a relevant (non-profit) platform for the arts in Martinique and abroad – and also developing a small cacao plantation with my brother…