Bridging Black Iberia to Europe Back

Bridging Black Iberia to Europe

Voices of Iberia in the Black Europe (VIBE) is a project by La Rampa magazine and EducAR that connects stories and legacies to racial issues, intersectional discourse and artistic production by placing Iberia within a broader cultural structure linked to the Atlantic.

This project examines institutional racism and its effects on artistic production, especially when the pandemic has mostly affected Black, brown and minority communities. This project is for the artistic production of a visual album and website archive of related content produced with and by Afro-Iberian artists. The artistic production will follow a series of interactive (online) workshops discussing themes including the African presence in Iberia, and the creation of original music and performance that references current events and experiences. The inspirational guides for this production are the fourth issue of La Rampa Magazine – Portugal and Spain’s artistic project “Afro in Progress”, developed by a series of collectives and artists/academics.

We spoke with Chantal James from La Rampa magazine on how Voices of Iberia in the Black Europe (VIBE) was thought of, how it will contribute to Europe post-COVID and a shared European public space.

Storytelling through audio narratives

The main focus of the discourse in La Rampa magazine was the Black community in Portugal, but with coronavirus and Black Lives Matter, the magazine took a whole other spin. “With the Black Lives Matter movement, the topic of the Black community in Portugal exploded, and people who didn’t use to identify with this issue became more aware that it was something that people needed to be involved in. Also, during this time of COVID, people have been spending more time and had more time to reflect on these issues.”Chantal says.

With this issue of La Rampa magazine, it is mostly visual. However, with the project (VIBE) they are working primarily with musicians, some of the hardest hit by the pandemic due to not having live exchanges and live performances. VIBE looks at storytelling through audio narratives and brings these individuals together again in a safer way, by having these exchanges in real life through a visual album and website archive of content created with and by Afro-Iberian artists together with a series of interactive online workshops.

Reconceptualising the past

By looking at the Black Iberian community, there will be a focus mainly on Portugal and Spain and show how these Black cultures are part of European Culture. “They are part of the diversity that is Europe, and it’s not new,” says Chantal.

“The reality is that there have been Black people in Europe for centuries and that they have contributed to European culture (music, arts and theatre) and that’s not recognised. In our storytelling, it’s not only about looking at new immigrants but also looking at what has already existed there. VIBE will contribute to Europe, post-corona by reconceptualising the past, seeing things from the past but another perspective. So the idea is that people will have a broader vision of Europe and not only white western culture, but for centuries it has the contributions of other people and in this case from the African continent.”

Growing VIBE from local to pan European

VIBE aims to inspire Black people and those who identify as a different background, who live in other European countries to investigate and look into this culture. “Right now we’re looking mainly at Portugal and Spain, but you can also do a focus into France and other European countries to look for parallel stories in these other European countries. The idea is to inspire people to look at their city and where they are from a different perspective.” Chantal explains.

Making Europe an open and shared public space for everyone

When it comes to how VIBE contributes to making Europe an open and shared public space for everyone Chantal explains “Music seeps and goes into all places, and with this project, we will be having conversations with the musicians. But the most powerful tool will be the music but music presented within the context of narratives and storytelling. Thinking about where this music is coming from because often we don’t do that. We hear the music, but we don’t necessarily know its roots and value this. Hence, we hope by producing this project music will become more accessible with the stories connected to it; and we can help educate people on this.

With the combination of musicians and a visual album in this project, we want to use the magazine as an inspiration and instigator for conversation where people can look at these images and stories and see similarities and differences that people will recognise.”

Granted: € 19520