C&: So, a year after “NoBrasil” was launched, you exhibited “Afro-T” and soon after that, “Diálogos Ausentes”. Do you consider these last two projects as having developed from “NoBrasil”?
DL: “AfroT” is the first project to come out of “NoBrasil” that fulfills this desire to move off-line. It is driven by three central questions: since I am among the sixth generation of black women from a small city called Mundo Novo (New World), located in the state of Bahia (the blackest state outside of Africa), I began wondering about what would happen with the ancestral knowledge of my house, if my great grandmother, at the time 102 years old, passed away. The second question was to think about how my production would have been influenced if I had had an Afrocentric education at school and at university. The third was this reflection on a collective level: what impact would this have on national artistic production? Such a line of questioning came, of course, alongside observations of the presence and absence of black production that “NoBrasil” had brought us and we realized that our own house is a critical research site. With a program that spans ancestry and contemporaneity, memory and knowledge, through various lectures, performances, laboratories, activities and workshops, the project discusses the effects of epistemicide and the search for new epistemologies that form the basis of our creative work.
“Diálogos Ausentes” came about initially as an invitation from Itaú Cultural (the Itaú cultural institute) after the first edition of “AfroT”. A major point to recall about “AfroT” is that, more than the mobilization and visibility it generated, it ended up, for the cultural sector, being an important milestone because it was among the first programs to achieve this sort of institutional intervention. The fact that it was held at the Red Bull Station ended up enhancing the discussions about the absence of Afro-Brazilian production in museums, galleries and cultural centers, particularly based on the text I wrote about curatorship as an agent for rendering these practices invisible.
When the Itaú cultural center is accused of racism for its use of blackface in a play as part of its performance program, triggering the structural racism present in the institution, I get the invitation to help build and mediate various rounds of forums that ended up going on for a year and a half. So, at the end of 2016, we closed the round of meetings with an exhibition, that I curated with the artist Rosana Paulino. And in 2017, we put on a new exhibit in Rio de Janeiro, one of the first initiatives to focus on black culture at one of the largest cultural institutions in the country in all of its 30 years of operations. The exhibition was also one of the first curated by black women in this institutional circuit.