C&: What brought you to initiate the 5-year project Transatlantic Connections?
Gabriela Salgado: I have specialised in Latin American art and have worked in the region for over fifteen years. In 2008 I took my first trip to West Africa to attend the 8th Dakar Biennale, and through conversations with artists and curators I realised that there were more coincidences than differences between the Latin American and African art scenes in relation to the mainstream, canonical art history and the market. I thus began to investigate the historical reasons for the lack of dialogue between Africa and Latin America in the visual arts field, and to build a practical template for cooperation between artists from both sides of the Atlantic. Reflecting upon these questions I realised how invisible the traces of the African heritage are in the art produced in most Latin American countries, something especially shocking in those places where large portions of the population are black or mixed race. I believe that in an attempt to please and be accepted by the international mainstream, our artistic production has self-colonised by consistently whitening and westernising its discourse. With the exception of the Havana Biennale, whose inaugural editions of 1984 and 1986 put an emphasis in exhibiting artists of the global south, most biennales and exhibitions in Latin America have turned their back to African art until very recently. Subsequently I initiated collaborations with Colombian organisation Más Arte Más Acción, Portes et Passages de Retour in Senegal, and Doual’art in Cameroon and realised three artists exchanges between 2012 and 2014. In 2013 I met Lucrezia Cipitelli who had previously worked in projects in Africa and Latin America and was researching the possibilities of an exchange programme between Afro-descendants from Colombia and African artists with a focus on urban and communitarian practice. We decided to set up Transtlantic Connections and to propose an artistic exchange to be included in the programme of the following Dak’art Biennale by collaborating with Association Cie 1er Temps and its dancers, strongly rooted in Ouakam and its community.