Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

IBB Curacao reacts on Sasha Dees’ Caribbean Travelogue


(…) the role Instituto Buena Bista (IBB) played in the recent history, currently and in the future is scantly addressed.


We find ourselves forced to react on the article ‘Kòrsou’ by Sasha Dees on your website. If the aim of the article is to give a sort of summary on the state of the art on the island and specifically in light of a research in ‘the sustainability of contemporary art practices and the influence of international (exchange) projects, funding, markets and politics’ as the writer herself notes, then we have to react. As in that case the role Instituto Buena Bista (IBB) played in the recent history, currently and in the future is scantly addressed.

If this has to do with a critical polemic that emerged after a conversation and tour with the writer at IBB by one of the undersigned is unknown. It’s also not an issue that one of those interviewed is largely left out of the article as a Curacao born artist and co-founder of IBB (we applaud the attention for other artists even though it’s disappointing that recommended IBB alumni artists who are back on the island were not interviewed nor visited), but that the role of IBB is minimized to an ‘educational’ sideline is downplaying the reality. Since 2006 IBB has made name and fame and has made possible a lot more (international) attention and also more possibilities for funding. This is support that facilitates options for others too. Possibly even Dees’ research and the relevancy of it for Mondriaan Fund’s support can be brought back and connected to this history. More than 60 former IBB students have gone through our custom tailored preparatory course and guidance on to studying at various creative and artistic college courses. Ten of these have already graduated and are currently continuing their studies, (partly) back on the island, and some alternately working as part of our staff. Another large group (around 250) did not directly go on to an art course but did enjoy through IBB’s approach a solid socially formative base to step into the complex life with. IBB has attention for all of its alumni and offers them further guidance in setting up their practices. We approached these responsibilities with idealism, sacrifices and intrinsic engagement with the island.

To us it’s only a good thing that there’s a relatively large group, with more to come, of young creatives for a relatively small population size. They form the basis for new connecting ideas and are able to be flexible and creative in anticipation. This is quite needed in light of the general fixation and over-appreciation of economic / financial studies, policies and careers. Naturally, more processes need to concurrently be implemented for the possibilities, support and context of the many creative professions. That said, IBB’s vision on this future goes further than the classical idea of art in the artworks of exhibitions, galleries, biennials, fairs in the largely commercial context and/or a small elite niche. There is only space there for a select few and real change also doesn’t happen there. That’s why IBB pays an abundance of attention to alternative and new social practice functions of imagination and creativity in it’s positioning, work method and curriculum.

Our permanent presence on the premises of a psychiatric clinic underlines a part of this sustained engagement. In the mean time this approach and reach of IBB goes further than just Curacao. Departments of education, culture and social affairs of The Netherlands, Belgium, the Dominican Republic, various cities, political institutions and also the art world show interest for the innovative approach. IBB started a structural co-operation with the Kunsthal in Rotterdam that manifests itself in summer schools and big community projects under the AYCA (All You Can Art) name. The various AIR (Artist in Residence) programs that IBB has maintained since her establishment have pulled more than 60 international and local artists to IBB and Curacao. They have all reacted and surprised with visual reactions to the context of the island. They underscore to a greater extent the durability and vitality of the Curacaoan (Caribbean) context; each artist is asked to not only teach the students in a master / apprentice relationship, but also to develop own work, exhibit and leave something behind for the IBB collection. Shortly, a growing collection of new cultural heritage for Curacao! There’s a lot more to appoint with regards to the sustainably catalyzing action of IBB, but come, see, experience, participate and encounter it for yourself.
David Bade and Tirzo Martha,
co-fouders Instituto Buena Bista