You better say our names. Working towards pluricultural futures
'You better say our names. Working towards pluricultural futures’ consists of a series of digital partnerships with artists, thinkers, curators, and organisations, both within Norway and globally, specifically aiming at strengthening the networks with black communities in the arts and working towards pluricultural futures. The project unfolds into several parts: a podcast series, a home-based residency and public talks.
About the Project
Back in 2021, discussions and reflections around the institution as a platform to share knowledge and experiences, but also as a gatekeeper for the art field, emerged at OCA.
In collaboration with curator Morgan E. Freeman, OCA started internal reflections on how the institution can challenge gatekeeping mechanisms, while reflecting on systemic issues. These thoughts developed into research on accountability from an institutional perspective and responsibility towards an exchange with the art field.
Our research was rooted in intersectional and decolonial discourses, and so, the question on diversity, and institutional practices in relation to institutional language was raised.
We quickly realized that introspection as an institution and listening to the communities and art workers that share space with us was needed. OCA partnered with artists and organisations, both within Norway and globally, specifically aiming at strengthening the networks with black communities in the arts and working towards pluricultural futures. For the introspection part, OCA had an internal workshop on anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices led by UNLRN PRJCT by Ro Avery. This is how the program ‘You better say our names. Working towards pluricultural futures’ (previously named ‘Afro-Nordic collaborations’) developed. The title of the programme ‘You Better Say Our Names’ is borrowed from Duduzile Mathonsi’s contribution to the programme.
Norway, and the Nordic region at large, are home to rich artistic production by artists of the African diaspora, a truth that challenges the myth of homogeneity that is the forefront of many assumptions of the cultural landscape in the Nordic countries. Today we find ourselves at a critical juncture, at which there is a lack of consensus around the language we use to discuss this work and its contexts and a need to develop it further through collaborative methods.
Through seeking a path for collaborations with agents already concerned and working on these topics we aim to work jointly on re-thinking language, raising questions, and hacking the tools to switch the narratives in the socio-political art scene.
This programme is situated at the center of local and global debates, seeking to critically engage with artistic dialogues between peers from Black communities.
In recognising that we are at the beginning of establishing such relationships, OCA seeks to take a receptive approach to understand what is needed for the communities that share space with us to thrive, and we uphold the notion that expressions of Blackness are multidimensional.