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Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Raquel Villar-Pérez

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TELL ME YOUR STORY. 100 years of storytelling in African American art

In the context of The Netherlands, where African American art has never had a dedicated solo show, I appreciate that the way the show was thought and how it is laid out responds to a rather didactic curatorial approach: the works are displayed in a loose chronological order, the wall-texts, although in Dutch, provide with a light contextual socio-political explanation of the time, they are accompanied by cultural artefacts that informed the visual arts and reinforced the mood of the time such as music, printed materials, and videos.

Raquel Villar-Pérez on TELL ME YOUR STORY, 100 years of storytelling African American art
Charles White, The Bridge Party, 1938

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Frida Orupabo

RaquelV10

One of the reasons why I felt enthralled by the artwork is because the artist has mastered capturing the viewer’s eyes by forming fragmented black individuals that unapologetically return the gaze to the spectator. The artist is aware that ‘when working with black bodies, it becomes immediately political’, and in that sense the artist endeavours to force the observer into a dialogue.

Raquel Villar-Pérez in conversation with Frida Orupabo, a Norwegian artist with Nigerian heritage.
Untitled, courtesy the artist

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Lina Iris Viktor: Elevating black{ness]

Lina10

Enthusiast of 24-karat gold or not, what is undeniable is that Lina Iris Viktor’s work provides with food for thought; she graciously interweaves complex aesthetics with conceptual and political commitment.

Raquel Villar-Pérez on Lina Iris Viktor

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Alberta Whittle (Barbados)

Alberta WhittleCelestial Mediations II, 2017

Spiritual practices, linked to masquerade inspire much of my approach to making and thinking through my research. I think my work is very much a mash up, a mash with masquerade and afro-futurism.

Raquel Villar Pérez in conversation with Alberta Whittle
Celestial Meditations II, 2017

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Marie-Claire Messouma Manlanbien

Poeme-en-Ruban-de-laiton-#1,-detail,-Courtesy-50-Golborne

There are many aspects of Messouma Manlanbien’s work that attracted me and that I enjoyed when visiting the exhibition; probably the most obvious one is the focus on women as the central theme not only in the exhibition but in Marie-Claire’s work in general, and the prevailing stereotypes that many of us battle against on a daily basis, the acknowledgement and celebration of our foremothers teachings also moved me. I appreciated the artist’s attempt to contribute with her work to these striking debates.

Raquel Villar-Pérez on the work of Marie-Claire Messouma Manlanbien

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