The necessary memory

/ 1 June, 2015

Notes on Drapetomanía, Exhibition and Tribute to the Antillean Group


In the last few years, Drapetomanía has been moving from one place to another, including several galleries and museums in the United States. The curatorial project is headed by historian Alejandro de la Fuente, a professor and director of the Afro-Latin American Research Institute at Harvard University. Currently occupying the Cooper Gallery in Boston, Drapetomaníahas already been shown in the Center for the Development of Visual Arts in Havana, The 8th Floor in New York, and the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco. Next year it will be received by the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Moreover, in March 2013, when the itineraries of the exhibition were inaugurated, the Santiago de Cuba Provincial Center of Visual Arts and Design was chosen as the launching site. Choosing this city in the eastern part of the island, whose West Indian nature is acknowledged in contrast with the occidental Cuban capital, more related in the national imagination with European and North American modernness, were already moving forward the particularities of this project. Conceived as a necessary tribute to the Antillean Group, which between 1978 and 1983 attempted to highlight elements of African origin that constitute Cuban art, Drapetomanía makes it possible to rediscover a movement that until now has been relegated to the general disregard of Cuban artists, critics and public.(…)

Drapetomanía moves from the affirmative impulse of what is black in the Antillean Group, during the seventies and the eighties, to the recent production of important contemporary artists like José Bedia, René Peña, Marta María Pérez Bravo, Elio Rodríguez, Juan Roberto Diago, Choco, Alexis Esquivel, Andrés Montalván and Santiago Rodríguez Olazábal. When introducing a tribute section to the Antillean Group, the curatorial project draws a welcome historical stroke. It reveals continuities, probably unconscious in most of these artists, within a common search for an expression of identity. (…)


Drapetomanía will be at the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and African American Art until May 29, 2015 (



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