Afrocuban Art in Harvard University
The exposition Drapetomanía. Antillean Group and the Afro-Cuban Art, has been presented in Santiago de Cuba an Havana, and now arrives at Harvard University, after have been presented in New York and San Francisco.
Exhibit originally in the Provincial Center of Plastic Arts and design in Santiago de Cuba (April-May, 2013), it was described as “one of the best shows of plastic arts of the latest years in Santiago de Cuba”, Drapetomanía travels now to the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and Afro-American Art in Harvard University after been presented in the Development Center of Visual Arts in Havana, in The 8th Floor Gallery in New York and in he Museum of African Diaspora (MOAD) in San Francisco.
Drapetomanía honors to Antillean Group (1978-1983), a cultural and artistic movement previously forgotten that propose a vision of the Cuban culture that stressed the importance of African and Afro-Caribbean elements in the formation of the nation. The show presents a revisionist reading of the named “new Cuban art” and highlight the necessity of include the work of artists that trying sink the Cuban starting at their connections with African diaspora. The art of Antillean Group forms part of a long Caribbean tradition of resistance and cultural affirmation, of these “prodigious effort of self-defense” and the “ideological cimarronería” that, in words of the Haitian poet René Depestre, permits to the hemisphere enslaved masses rework their backgrounds and cultures legacy.
The title of the exhibit Drapetomanía makes reference at one supposed illness described in the mid nineteen century by a doctor of plantations in Louisiana. From de Greek drapetes (escape, flee) and manía (madness) the more visibly symptom of these curios disease was the irrepressible tendency and pathologic of many slaves to scape and be free. Indeed, the doctor described the cimarronaje like a suffering, a disease, a deviation of natural order, and an expression of the indomitable savagery of blacks.
Curated by the historian Alejandro de la Fuente, professor in Harvard University, the exposition Drapetomanía is complemented by the book Antillean Group: The Afro-Cuba Art, edited by the curator, with essays of art critics and historians like Guillermina Ramos Cruz, José́ Veigas y Judith Bettelheim. The exhibition include works of the Antillean Group artists (Esteban Ayala, Rogelio Rodríguez Cobas, Manuel Couceiro, Herminio Escalona, Ever Fonseca, Ramón Haití, Adelaida Herrera, Arnaldo Rodríguez Larrinaga, Oscar Rodríguez Lasseria, Alberto Lescay, Manuel Mendive, Leonel Morales, Clara Morera, Miguel Ocejo, Rafael Queneditt y Julia Valdés) and Works of a group of contemporary artists that have show his work similar concerns to those articulated by Antillean Group (Belkis Ayón, Bedia, Choco, Diago, Esquivel, Marta MaríaPérez Bravo, Montalván, Olazábal, Douglas Pérez, Peña, Elio Rodríguez y Leandro Soto). Drapetomanía propose a new genealogy of Cuban plastic arts that connect differents generations and artistic trajectories and shared deep attention to themes like race and identity.
The exposition will be open to the public in Harvard University from January 29 until May 2015
Information provided by: Alejandro de la Fuente, Curator.