Contemporary And: The first biennial of São Tomé and Príncipe (STP) was initiated by João Carlos Silva in 1995. He wanted to establish the art scene of this small country on a global scale. On the artist list of this year’s edition, there are no artists coming or working from STP. Can you talk about this decision?
Renny Ramakers: Well, three artists from STP will be presenting their work at N’GOLÁ in an exhibition curated by João Carlos Silva. But indeed, for this edition my main focus is to strengthen the ties between the African mainland and this small African republic in the Atlantic Ocean. I see STP as an in-between place: of once uninhabited islands, colonized by the Portuguese from the late fifteenth century until 1974; a former slave-trading post and colonial plantation, shaped by the Portuguese and the men and women abducted from the African continent and put to work there; a place whose future will be determined by the descendants of those enslaved Africans. In making these connections, I looked for works that could strengthen a narrative that is more positive and uplifting than generally told.
I have invited artists from Sub-Saharan Africa to present work, enact performances, hold workshops, and so on. All artists involved are invited to travel to the island for the opening weekend and interact with the local people, particularly artists, intellectuals, and artist initiatives.