Afroamerica is not just the Batey (sugar mill), the cleverness, the mantrap and the whip, the horse-drawn carriage or the coachman; Afroamerica is not just Changó and Ochún sizzling with sensuality in the mountains, Afro-America is not only the redemptive machete of the liberating mangrove, Afro-America is the enduring enigma between the waters where we are headed, who we are, where we have come from. Afro-America is a predicament of pain that concerns the entire continent. (Nancy Morejón, “Afro-America. The Invisible?”)
When in 1996, during the ARCO art fair in Madrid, the Cuban critic and curator, Gerardo Mosquera, declared a group of new artists disinterested in the question of identity, he may not have taken into account the production by non-white artists in the region. Those artists, mostly blacks and mestizos, continue to reflect upon their racial identity; identity understood as the capacity of recognizing oneself with regard to the color of the skin and acting accordingly. “Identity as a black citizen”, says Victor Fowler, “implies a type of pain which manifests its existence beyond the paradox of deculturalization, seeing as the stimuli come from history, culture, feelings associated with color, family stories, everyday life and the mass media”.
These artists appeal to the historical memory characterized by the experience of slavery. The colonial servitude, racism and the specific forms of black resistance as part of a strategy for visibilization and political questioning of the black population’s position in contemporary society.
From an extensive list, artists stand out such as María Magdalena Campos (Cuba, 1959), Joscelyn Gardner (Barbados, 1961), Rosana Paulino (Brasil, 1967), Ayrson Heráclito (Brasil, 1968), Paulo Nazareth (Brasil, 1977), José Bubu Negrón (Puerto Rico, 1975), Renata Felinto (Brasil,1978), Mara Sánchez Renero (México, 1979), Wagner Viana (Brasil, 1981), Thiago Gualberto (Brasil, 1983), Susana Pilar Delahante Matienzo (Cuba, 1984), Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara (Cuba, 1987), Carlos Martiel (Cuba, 1989), and De Costa a Costa (Colombia, artist collective).