Dr. Yvette Mutumba is cofounder and editor in chief of the art magazines Contemporary And (C&) and Contemporary and América Latina (C&AL). She is a lecturer at the Institute of Art in Context, Berlin University of the Arts, and curator at large at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Mutumba studied art history at Free University of Berlin and holds a Ph.D. from Birkbeck, University of London.@changethemuseum Instagram post, September 18, 2020.
The international antiracism protests following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks prompted a group of curators, artists, and cultural workers to set up this Instagram account with the goal of “pressuring US museums to move beyond lip service proclamations by amplifying tales of unchecked racism.” Its almost 38,000 followers and the (as of this writing) around 480 mainly anonymous testimonials posted since its launch in mid-June reflect the urgency of highlighting experiences of racism in cultural institutions. The fact that most contributors decided that only by remaining anonymous could they protect their careers shows how far we are from making structural changes and shifting power within institutions.Icon for Black artists and cultural workers in Switzerland’s June 9, 2020, open letter.
ALL OPEN LETTERS WRITTEN BY BLACK CULTURAL PRODUCERS
Art workers and cultural producers across Europe and the US have been writing open letters calling for change within the field. This wave of public demands for apologies and structural transformation has made clear that what were once quiet requests have now become requirements, which have never before been articulated with such force. While the letters did provoke immediate institutional responses, including a few resignations of persons in senior positions, it remains to be seen whether this will lead to sustainable, in-depth transformations.Indira Grandê, Catumbela das Conchas (Catumbela of the Shells), 2020, two-channel HD video, sound, 4 minutes 15 seconds.
FUCKIN’ GLOBO (LUANDA)
In keeping with their motto “From the people to the people . . . Fuck institutions,” Fuckin’ Globo held its sixth exhibition in Luanda’s former Hotel Globo, this one titled “In the Discomfort Zone.” With enormously energizing and powerful works in the most varied media, the participating artists dissected Angola’s economic and political past, envisioning new social configurations. One of the great things about the project is that a primary aim is to reach out to audiences beyond the “art bubble.”Library of Africa and the African Diaspora, Accra, Ghana, 2020.
LIBRARY OF AFRICA AND THE AFRICAN DIASPORA (ACCRA)
The Library of Africa and the African Diaspora in Accra opened to the public in July, offering access to more than four thousand books spanning the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries and covering forty-four of the continent’s countries. Founder Sylvia Arthur toured secondhand bookstores in Europe and the US for almost ten years, since many of the books are actually not available in Ghana or Africa. The library can be seen as part of a restitution process, with the books in a sense becoming artifacts and returning to Africa.Association of Surinamese People, the Netherlands, ca. 1935.
“SURINAMESE PEOPLE IN THE NETHERLANDS: 100 YEARS OF EMANCIPATION AND STRUGGLE” (THE BLACK ARCHIVES, AMSTERDAM; CURATED BY JESSICA DE ABREU, MITCHELL ESAJAS, AND MIGUEL HEILBRON)
Run by the New Urban Collective, the Black Archives are a unique trove of books, papers, and artifacts documenting the history of Black emancipation movements and individuals in the Netherlands. On the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the organization Vereniging Ons Suriname (Association of Surinamese People), the archive presented an exhibition highlighting unknown (hi)stories of the organization, and hence of Surinamese people in the Netherlands, including their resistance during World War II and the emancipation of their language and culture. The show also features works by contemporary artists Raul Balai, Patricia Kaersenhout, and Shertise Solano.
DIÁSPORA GALERIA (SÃO PAULO)
In Brazil’s art scenes, nonwhite artists are clearly underrepresented, and the Diáspora Galeria, which launched in November 2019, is leading the way to change that. It is the only gallery in Brazil that is fully committed to equal representation of BIPOC artists. Founder Alex Tso and director Luciara Ribeiro intend to bring the art market closer to Brazilian social reality by advocating for the artists and organizing educational events.Akinbode Akinbiyi, Bar Beach, Victoria Island, Lagos, 2004, ink-jet print, 23 5/8 × 23 5/8″.
AKINBODE AKINBIYI (GROPIUS BAU, BERLIN; CURATED BY NATASHA GINWALA)
Photographer Akinbiyi’s poetic long-term series capture life in its most intimate as well as communal moments. Since the 1970s, Akinbiyi has been wandering the streets of cities including Lagos, Berlin, Johannesburg, Bamako, Athens, and Chicago, quietly observing and capturing social realities that are too often overlooked. This show, “Six Songs, Swirling Gracefully in the Taut Air,” finally brought together a substantial selection of his work, including projects that have not been presented in their entirety to the public before.
MINNA SALAMI, SENSUOUS KNOWLEDGE: A BLACK FEMINIST APPROACH FOR EVERYONE (AMISTAD)
Salami manages to pull off a very difficult task: reflecting on such complex notions as art, beauty, liberation, and Blackness by intertwining these concepts with storytelling, academic study, and social criticism. This methodology, which Salami calls “sensuous knowledge,” merges emotional intelligence with rational thinking. The outcome is a stimulating book that offers new perspectives on key cultural issues that impact women’s lives.Elio Villafranca performing Elaine Mitchener’s “Blutit,” 2020, during the IN·FLO·RES·CENCE online program.
IN·FLO·RES·CENCE (INSTAGRAM, VIMEO, AND WEBSITE OF THE SHOWROOM, LONDON)
In these times of virtual exhibitions and event programs, this platform, conceived by filmmaker and producer Reece Ewing, creates—through the power of jazz—a wonderful moment for pausing and “just” listening. IN·FLO·RES·CENCE brings together ten newly commissioned compositions responding to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. All are interpreted by the project’s artist-in-residence, pianist and composer Elio Villafranca, whose performances are complemented by conversations between arts professionals and the composers.Camille Dumond, Amber room, Circles 1 o 4 (detail), 2020, handcrafted plates (Poterie Sahara), fired and glazed Oulja clay, metal, each 9 7/8 × 9 7/8 × 5 7/8″.
CAMILLE DUMOND (LE CUBE, RABAT)
Dumond conducted research and interviews with Moroccan authors, painters, and storytellers about the blind spots, distortions, and gestures of translation, which have consequences beyond language. The result was a booklet, a short film titled Eye archive group (Technopark Tanger), 2020, and the installation Extra Lives, an array of ceramics produced at the Oulja artisanal complex near Rabat. Shown alongside metal sculptures, Extra Lives was a particularly beautiful, powerful way of “translating” the themes of Dumond’s research into physical objects.