C&AL: How was the process of working for the Biennale given the fact that you weren’t always in Germany. How did it work?
Thiago de Paula Souza: We tried to meet whenever it was possible. If two of us for some reason were in the same city that was a chance to get together and work. We also had endless conversations on skype, whatsapp. When Gabi [Ngcobo] was appointed as the curator of the 10th Berlin Biennale, late in 2016, she was in São Paulo, I live there and by coincidence Moses was also there.. Few days later I came to Vienna to a show at the Akademie der bildenden Künste and stayed in Europe the most part of the winter. I came to Berlin and we had some meetings also with Yvette [Mutumba] and we started to draft some ideas. Later in May, we went to several cities in the Caribbean stayed there for almost a month. That was something super special and intense in terms of research. We were, for example, in Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
C&AL: How was that?
TPS: I had been already researching the Caribbean or the Black presence there for a while, although I had never been there before. And you know that there is very little funding or grant money that can bring curators or artists to the Caribbean. It’s one of those places not very affordable to go for research. Probably because it is also connected to another kind of economy – it’s so touristic and quite expensive. So, when we arrived there, it was quite interesting, to see the local dynamics and some silence hierarchies of power – I had to apply for the USA visa, as we went to Puerto Rico and as sometimes you have to go through Miami – it’s quite complicated to travel within the islands.
Every place was special. Haiti was important because it was a chance to see a lot of things I’ve been hearing, studying or thinking about part of my entire life. It was interesting to see how people organize themselves (or not) or how they’re creating, thinking about art- and beyond it. By the end of the trip, we also met people in the Cayman Islands during the Tilting Axis, a conference with artists and curators.