In Conversation with Albertine Kopp: An Initiative for Caribbean Art

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[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention. This article is related to previous post related to Call for Exhibition Curator: Caribbean Art Initiative.] “Newly-formed in 2019 as an independent not-for-profit, the Caribbean Art Initiative will continue to support art exchanges and cultural programs across the Caribbean.” Ramatu Musa (Contemporary And, C&AL) speaks with Albertine Kopp, head of the Initiative.

Between 2012 and 2018, Albertine Kopp was the Senior Manager of the Davidoff Art Initiative, a corporate arts sponsorship program initiated by the Swiss cigar company Oettinger Davidoff AG. The Davidoff Art Initiative supported over 50 artists, curators, and writers to participate in residencies in the Dominican Republic, New York, Beijing, Basel, and Bogotá. It also awarded grants to over 15 organizations and publications with a focus on Caribbean art. Davidoff also hosted Caribbean artists at Art Basel editions in Miami, Hong Kong, and Basel. Following the dissolution of the Davidoff Art Initiative by the company, Albertine Kopp, András Szántó, and Pablo León de la Barra formed a core team to establish the Caribbean Art Initiative – with support from an artistic committee stemming from the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, South Africa, and China. Newly-formed in 2019 as a not-for-profit, the Caribbean Art Initiative will continue to support art exchanges and cultural programs across the Caribbean islands.

C&AL: In what ways is the Caribbean Art Initiative a continuation of, and a divergent from, the Davidoff Art Initiative?

Albertine Kopp: The Caribbean Art Initiative marks a new era and a new program, evolving from the wonderful six years of engagement built up by Davidoff and coupled with the support of great colleagues from all over the world. We have extended our focus now into what we call the “Continental Caribbean”. This means we include the nations that touch the Caribbean Sea, including Costa Rica, Colombia, Panamá, and Venezuela. Residencies and residency exchanges remain the benchmark of our efforts, as we have seen the benefits of these programs to the artists, curators, and other creative people involved. Depending on the velocity and volume of funding, we want to build further complementary programs. As a not-for-profit, we want to promote more visibility and representation for Caribbean art through exhibitions and presence. We are working with partners to look into the possibility of showcasing Caribbean art in all manner of ways. We are also very much interested in doing publications, both print and online, to really offer this visibility to the broadest audience.

C&AL: Compared to the Americas, Caribbean art is neglected when one looks at the exhibitions agenda, programming line-up, and educational curriculum of European art schools, museums, and galleries. What is your prognosis for Caribbean art in Europe given its neglected status by institutions on this side of the Atlantic?

AK: I would say it is neglected and under-represented everywhere. This is due to an ecosystem that one has to take into account. First, we must begin in the Caribbean, to rebuild and maintain sustainable infrastructure and ecosystems and support existing ones in terms of structure, representation, and programming. There is a lot to do in education and art mediation, which is very important. We have to work hand-in-hand with the people through art mediation, so that they can understand the value of Caribbean art and appreciate it. It always depends on what is the priority in certain countries. For some countries, it is tourism; in others, it is culture – and almost always, there is a blend of the two. In terms of future visions, I would say that the Americas retain our most crucial responsibility. There are some notable new movements already. The Pérez Museum in Miami announced a Caribbean research center. In terms of museums in Europe, the Reina Sofía is looking at [Caribbean] artists. In 2017, they bought a work from Engel Leonardo, a Dominican artist, during Arco Madrid.

For me, and what matters for to the Caribbean Art Initiative, before engaging too deeply in Europe – excepting exhibitions, which is one vital activity, obviously – we must foster first museums and existing institutions within the Caribbean. [. . .]

For full interview, see http://amlatina.contemporaryand.com/editorial/albertine-kopp-caribbean-art

For more information, see https://caribbean.art, https://www.facebook.com/CaribbeanArtInitiative, and https://www.instagram.com/caribbeanartinitiative

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