Solange Farkas

Creator and Chief Curator of the International Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil


From your point of view, what are the main questions and problems of the Global South?

First, I think we need to start with three distinct terms: diversity, plurality and dissent. The purity of a singular cultural construction does not fit us. Diversity is the great wealth of the South. One of the biggest lessons that the South can give for artistic — or human — understanding is that a single South does not exist. It is as diverse as is Brazil itself, or Europe, etc.

However, there are also many questions in common, especially the fact of these regions having been or still remaining on the peripheries of power, in the economic, cultural and military spheres. The Global South is always to some degree subject to the power of this Other – the North –, and has recast over the decades a certain “Occidental” inheritance that is very present and establishes very profound ties of dependence.

Where are the gaps in the South-South dialog? ?

One of the most important initiatives in stimulating the South-South dialog is the demystification of this crossing and vision of the world as leaving from the North in the direction of the South. We are not here to deny the North, but rather to give cultural visibility to dissent. Thinkers, artists, researchers from various disciplines and activists from the countries of the South have been, since their independence (and here we are talking about various forms of independence, whether from the Soviet bloc or from 19th century imperialism), seeking to construct an autonomous thinking that recognizes the real conditions of these regions, in dialog with our particularities and needs. But in fact this South-South exchange is more complex, either because of factors such as great geographical distances to overcome, rendering difficult face-to-face activities and meetings; or because of economic factors, that deplete the financing of projects and research carried out in partnership and exchanges; and even cultural factors – like the weight that some academic and art institutions in the North still exercises over us.

However, we have recently increased in number by one each time the initiatives that seek to stimulate this South-South exchange. Important names in the arts are beginning to take on relevance, such as African Okwui Enwezor, curator of the last Venice Biennale. New Biennials and institutional projects of the South arose dedicated to the stimulation of this dialog, like the Goethe-Institut’s Episodes of the South. Initiatives that start to show that, since then, we have been constructing other narratives and problematizing our own reasons for history – equally from the South.

How does "Observatory of the South" relate to these gaps and problems?

Observatory of the South is a project that began linked to the programming of the 19th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil | Panoramas of the South, realized in 2015 in partnership with the Goethe-Institut, with coordination of the curator Sabrina Moura. Our intention was to create a research project around the Global South and its uses in the arts and social sciences that was understood as a critical space, in which debate around the Global South was disconnected from geographies. We managed to bring together artists and researchers from different disciplines in four meetings that subsidized the preparation of the publication Panoramas of the South | Readings: Perspectives on Other Geographies of Thought. The book, produced in partnership with the Sesc São Paulo publications, brings together essays and artistic manifestos that question representations and Eurocentric narratives and introduce – defending or questioning – the concept of the geopolitical South, bringing together these regions marked by historical, social and culturally similar contexts and also contributing to fill the gap in theoretical productions about these South-South dialogs.

Solange Farkas , Creator and Chief Curator of the International Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil which has become a reference for the artistic production of the South.