En 2015, the Goethe Institute launched the project southern episodes, which for three years promoted a series of debates, research, exchange programs, artistic productions and international meetings, whose main focus was the decolonization of thought.
Artists, curators, academics and various cultural agents, mainly from Latin America, Asia and Africa, debated the “nonconformity” with colonial history, the need to discuss the existence or not of a global art history and what could be the ways of acquisition and mediation of knowledge.
There were several meetings. O Museum Episode, for example, allowed Museum directors from different continents in 2016 and 2017 to exchange ideas about the global future of museums, meeting in Salvador, Brazil, Santa Cruz and La Paz in Bolivia and Johannesburg in South Africa.
All the events, although starting from different issues, were permeated by the intention of thinking about the south, “from itself”.
As the Indian anthropologist Arjun Appadurai would say, “instead of thinking a southern theory that generates traditional northern ways of thinking, a 'south of theory' that will give rise to another architecture of global culture”. (ARTE!36)
Now, as of April 2018, Goethe continues its cultural investment and promotes the “SOUTH ATLANTIC ECHO CONFERENCE, on the future of Southern transatlantic relations”, – https://www.goethe.de/ins/br/pt/kul/sup/echoes.html –
The conference will address from different perspectives, multidisciplinary, multispatial and multitemporal, the future of transatlantic relations in the South, based on the role of Europe in the past, present and future.
In the Institute's definition, until the 15th century, the Atlantic represented a perceptible border between Africa and Europe on the one hand and America on the other. With the discovery, this frontier is broken and a history of colonization, enslavement, exploitation, migration and enrichment of Europe begins. This created an indissoluble bond between the three continents. As power relations and political relations change, the interests of exchange between the three continents are increasing.
How important is the Transatlantic Triangle in the 21st century? What kind of position will Europe assume vis-à-vis Africa and South America, after having played the role of colonial hegemony – in different nuances – for the last 500 years? How to deal with knowledge and discoveries of the past in relation to future trajectories?
How to determine the social, economic, political and cultural developments in the respective regions of the world? What stories pave the way for the future and what cultural strategies and innovations can substantially and sustainably improve life on Earth?
More than 50 artists will be present to present their works and dialogue with each other on “New historiographies”, “Migration and eviction”, “Civil societies of the future”, “Democracy”, “Art and science as hybrid forms of knowledge production”, , academics and intellectuals from different countries of the world.
Among them, Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, Professor of Anthropology at the University of São Paulo and a Princeton Global Scholar. Lilia was a fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation (2006/2007) and visiting professor at Oxford, Leiden, Brown, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales and Columbia University. She has published several books on the topics under discussion, such as Retrato em Branco e Negro (1987), O sol do Brasil (2008); Lima Barrett. Sad Visionary (2017); among them three in English: Spectacle of races (1999); The Beard of Emperors: D. Pedro II a Tropical King, (Farrar Strauss and Giroux, 2004), and Brazil: a biography-with Heloisa Starling (Company, 2016/Penguin, Spain 2016; Farrar Strauss and Giroux and Penguin UK, the be published in 2018). She has curated some exhibitions such as: Nicolas-Antoine Taunay: a French translation of the tropics (2008).
Bonaventure Ndikung, PhD, biotechnologist and independent curator. He is founder and director of SAVVY Contemporary Berlin, a kind of Laboratory whose objective is to promote the dialogue between “Western art” and “non-Western art”. Bonaventure is editor-in-chief at the SAVVY Journal for critical texts on contemporary African art. He was once curator of dOCUMENTA 14 and is a guest curator of the Dak'Art Biennale 2018 in Senegal.
Elisa Larkin Nascimento, PhD in psychology at the University of São Paulo, as well as a Master of Arts at the University of Buffalo, (USA). Director of IPEAFRO – Instituto de Pesquisas e Estudos Afro Brasileiros, she is dedicated to the custody, preservation and dissemination of the documentary and museological collection of Abdias Nascimento, as a basis for educational and cultural activities in relation to the African heritage in the diaspora. At the seminar, he intends to present to colleagues some of the content of this collection and exchange ideas about the seriousness of the genocide of Brazilian blacks, which Abdias denounced 40 years ago in the book that had a new edition, as well as on how to maximize the use of the collection. in cultural and educational actions that can contribute to the fight against racism and religious intolerance.
Professor Emeritus and Chair of English and American Studies at the Graduate Center at New York University. Robert Fitzgerald Reid-Pharr, PhD in American Studies, Master of African American Studies from Yale University and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. An expert on African American culture and a leading scholar in the field of race and sexuality studies, he is the author of four books: Conjugal Union: The Body, the House, and the Black American, Oxford University Press, 1999; Black, Gay, Man: Essays, NYU Press, 2001, for which he won the 2002 Randy Shilts Publishing Triangle Award for Gay Non-Fiction; Once You Go Black: Choice, Desire, and the Black American Intellectual, NYU Press, 2007; and Archives of Flesh: African America, Spain, and Post Humanist Critique, NYU Press.
Anna Hupe, Brazilian, one of the artists present is dedicated to researching and building projects of memory and counter-memory of migration. She has a PhD in Visual Arts from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and currently lives in Berlin where she is studying for a year as a guest student at Udk, Universitat der Kunste with the guidance of artist Hito Steyerl. As an invited artist-in-residence during the Conference South Atlantic Echos, she will participate with an exhibition at Vila Sul, by Goethe in Salvador. Her work should address research on the “returnees” who are Brazilians or Africans who decided or were forced to return to Africa at the end of the XNUMXth century and the beginning of the XNUMXth century. Hupe is interested in stories of “non-belonging”, the immigrants in Brazil idealized the other side of the Atlantic and when they arrived in Africa they were Brazilians. But there they formed powerful Brazilian communities like Lagos, Togo, Benin and Ghana. Her most recent work was “Much future for a single memory”, which occupied the Massangana Gallery – Fundação Joaquim Nabuco in Recife, curated by Moacir dos Anjos.
ARTE!Brasileiros will accompany the event and bring the essence of the debate to the public.
we talked to Katharina Von Ruckteschell, director of the Goethe Institut São Paulo and also regional director of the institution in South America who pursues, in her work, what she understands by the vocation of the Institute, the exchange of knowledge.
ARTE! The Goethe Institut has done enormous work since southern episodes, an extremely complex project that involves three continents, South America and Africa historically colonized by Europe. It is a fact that we start from an inequality. How is it possible to compensate for this disparity in an event like this.
The idea of the project “Ecos do Atlântico Sul” is to look at the triangular relationship between Europe, Africa and South America/Caribbean from different perspectives. Of course there is a historical relationship. From the beginning, it was Europe that imposed inequality and dependence on the relations between the continents in the North and South, through colonization. Slavery and other economic exploitation deepened inequality and dependency. Even the political independence achieved on both continents could not so far change them – until now. The world and its order change significantly. The “South” begins to emancipate itself from the “North”, borders that were consistently formed by slavery are now beginning to diminish due to common cultural roots, but also due to mutual visions of the future. Inequality may still exist. But for how long will it be like this and to what extent will a Europe, still ignorant, be able to take part in this triangular relationship? Inviting academics, intellectual scientists and artists from three continents who address these issues to come together and exchange perspectives on a common basis can be a starting point for seeing future possibilities.
The previous project, Episodio Museal, had a clear objective: to bring together museum directors and curators to think about new practices on the same geographic axis. What are the main agents that will take part in the project now? And for what purpose. Which field do you intend to emulate this time?
The “conference” as we call it, tries to stimulate and support research, art or literature projects that address the issue of the “South Atlantic”. “South Atlantic” represents a relationship between continents that in the past was oppressive and violent, today is tense and problematic and tomorrow could be worse than in the past or present. But it can also be much better. The “Episódios do Sul” project, including the “Museal Episode” was based on the thesis that looking at things from different perspectives can make them clearer and help to find new paths for the future. The “conference” will bring these different perspectives and disciplines and formats together to discuss the question of how and in what formats we will move forward more concretely. A discussion of different narratives in the history of slavery, for example, can evolve into a concrete project on victim reconciliation. I hope that after the conference, different ideas will emerge that can become projects.
Is there any practical activity expected from this project, be it the publication of a book or a partnership between universities?
I am sure that only the meeting of participants coming from different contexts, countries, cultures and disciplines, working on the same theme, will create a network that will collaborate and find supporters. Furthermore, I hope that concrete projects, which already exist or are being developed recently, can be carried out in the coming years. “Echos do Atlântico Sul” is planned to last three years and I am hopeful that it will grow in visibility and in participants.
*Fabio Cypriano collaborated