Elvira Dyangani Ose, Art and Architecture Historian, Chief Curator Arte InVisible 2009 Project (USA)

elvira What does the idea of a manifesto mean to you?
A manifesto is a statement, a public declaration of aims. A proclaiming for breaking silence or bring into light silenced events. I’m not just talking about declarations addressed to a crowd in a public space, but about powerful thoughts that could be read in a book in the intimacy our own room.

What are some of the manifestos that you consider significant for historical or personal reasons?
There are many of then that has special significant in History, to name a few, Martin Luther King's “I have a Dream” speech for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, any Steve Biko’s speech during his most active period in 1977 or his book I write what I like, as well as Ellen Kuzwayo’s Call me woman, Angela Davis’ Women, Race and Class, or other writings of author as Toni Morisson or Jamaica Kincaid.

Are there other forms of expression that could be interpreted as manifestos, a song, a work of fiction, a movie?
Music has been the vehicle of many manifestos. You can consider also Fela Kuti in this sense. Nonetheless, paraphrasing Grant Farred in talking to the intellectual vernacular, those rescuing popular culture to subvert dominant discourses or oppressed regimes are also creating manifestos. I would love to use his words to include the work of many visual artists, filmmaker and as I said before writers or poems. Examples are out there, decolonization and postcolonial period has produced many of them: Cahier d'un retour au pays natal or Cesaire’s Discourse on Colonialism Aimé Cesaire, Les Damnés de la terre, or Peau noire, masques blancs, Franz Fanon, and writings (and poems) of many others as Léopold Sédar Senghor, Jalal Al-e-Ahmad’s, Forugh Farrokhzad, etc…

Do you think that manifestos still have relevance in a century where identities are constantly fracturing and societies are in constant flux?
Yes, they still have relevance nowadays. Moreover, considering manifestos as different forms of expressions, which form part of education and culture. It is not only for the consumption of an individual human being, but to his or her community.

Do you have a personal manifesto as a curator?
My main aim as curator can’t be consider a manifesto. In different projects I have conceptualized or collaborated, and those what are in progress now, I always aim to create a particular scenario -setting up a topic or a thesis- in which my figure disappear, leaving an open space to the dialogue between artist, art and audience.