“I felt like a Black guy from New York trapped in Peru” *


Curated by Julia Grosse and Yvette Mutumba

 

When was the last time you thought about Afro-Argentinian identity?

The “disappearance of the Black” in Argentinian identity is one of the most intriguing mysteries in the country’s history.

– Adriana Bustos, artist

 

Did you know?

The history of African descendants in Peru and throughout Latin America is the story of a trans-African people, the story of the lives of those who were brought from the coasts of Africa to the “New World” as enslaved people. They lost the vestiges of their hometowns, but not their traditions or history, nor, of course, the features and color pointing them towards the Mother Continent.

– Sonia Håkansson and Heriberto Paredes, Directors

 
Or has this ever come to your attention?

I think we are going through an awakening of the Afro-Mexican consciousness, but there is still much to be done before the historical debt of the Mexican State to the Afro population can be repaid. At the moment, the main drivers of this awareness are Afro-Mexican activists, and we are grateful that they are mobilizing this kind of epistemology among ordinary citizens. While academia generated a lot of research on the Afro-descendant population, the knowledge kind of just stayed there.

– Koral Carballo, Photographer

 
A few years ago, we started to think about and discuss the ties between Africa, Afro-Latin America, and the Caribbean as part of our work with Contemporary And (C&) and Contemporary And América Latina (C&AL). In 2016, we published our first print issue in São Paulo, dedicated to interviews, features, and essays on the Afro-Brazilian art scene. The reality for most Afro-descendent artists in Latin America was, and still is, a state of invisibility within the arts and beyond. One example of this is the case of Rosana Paulino, who in 2010 was the first Afro-Brazilian artist to achieve a PhD in visual arts in Brazil: “I was trained at a time when conceptual art predominated Brazilian production. I looked at all that and I didn’t feel represented. As if only this Eurocentric, white, and almost always masculine parameter could be art. Then I looked for my roots, I looked to sewing, which I learned as a child, to family photos. When I started working, what bothered me most was this: I didn’t see myself in what was produced at that moment.”

Over 1-54 Forum London 2020, we want to engage and converse with creative voices from Afro-Latin American, Caribbean, and African perspectives: Why is it important to bring together and discuss shared histories and experiences as well as the differences? How can cultural production be generated around these issues? What impact has visibility, or rather invisibility, had on Afro-Latin American creatives and their work within their respective scenes? How have the art scenes in the Caribbean positioned themselves within the growing “hype” around their historical and recent artistic production? In short, let’s have conversations about the productive networks of creatives of the Global Diaspora.

This year’s 1-54 Forum will give a small insight into the ideas and debates around these issues. While we focus on a certain geographical area, it is, of course, equally important to think around the work that is being produced outside of geographic, historical, and social concepts connected to the African Diaspora. This 1-54 Forum is first and foremost about the practice of creative contemporaneity; contemporaneity in the sense that there’s not one single center but countless centers.

*Quote from Afro-Peruvian graffiti artist Entes