Herencia, Africa’s Legacy

/ 1 December, 2018

For those of us who live in Cuba and Brazil, the seventh edition of SACO—Contemporary Art Week, now called International Festival of Contemporary Art (…) in Antofagasta, Chile—, on this occasion convened based on the curatorial statement Origen y mito, represented an excellent opportunity to discuss the transcendence of Africa’s legacy in our territories. Thus, the exposition I presented there had as conceptual core this origin and the religious and social myths that, due to the relations of domination generated by colonialism, emerged and were exacerbated with the arrival to these lands of Africans, brought by force as slaves during the colonial period. The word Herencia (Heritage), the title of the exhibition, in its implicit reference to the present, was ideal to tackle the ulterior consequences and contemporary evolution of that historic process, particularly in the current circumstances marked by the increase of migrations, displacements and cultural confrontation. (…)

Although culturally and geographically distant from the Caribbean islands and zones in the north of South America (and even the south of North America) where there is a large population of African origin, the region of Antofagasta has been experiencing analogous processes for some time now based on the migrant communities that are repopulating the place. Workers with their families from neighboring countries -especially Colombians- have come to work in the [Chilean] copper mines and associated services, activating queries related to ancestry and coexistence, to origin and its myths. (…)

(…) The questions of: from where did we come? who are we? implicit in the enunciations of SACO 7, demanded an updating after the confrontations—many times negative—which the Afro-descendants who emigrate or who remain for some time in other nations have been experiencing. These are experiences that reveal the effects of the colonial domination and the universal prevalence of the Western canons, despite the years that have gone by.

(…) I exhibited two works by Marta María Pérez, an indispensable figure of Latin American photography residing in Mexico: three photos of the series Travesía (2011) and the installation Solo no se vive (1997- 2017). (…) Just as the Afro-Cuban myths are a constant in the work of Marta María, in the case of Jeanette Chavez they owe their appearance to a current event witnessed on foreign soil. (…)

(…) In Dibujo intercontinental, another of the pieces that was a part of Herencia, Susana Pilar Delahante, barefoot, wearing hardly any clothes, drags along the public pavement of a city in Europe a boat tied to her body.

(…) Carlos Martiel insists in the historic and contemporary experiences that led people of African descent to his stigmatization and social inequality. A descendant of Haitians and Jamaicans, his notable career in performance has been guided by the effort to translate the imprint on his body and mind of the conflicts that persons of similar origin and skin color suffer, as well as staging prejudices and secular evils like discrimination and exile. (…)

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