Samuel Sarmiento

Caribbean Linked was a pleasant experience. It is always rewarding to surround oneself with an empathetic community such as this one. I was able to interact with artists and cultural managers from different geographic locations in the Caribbean as well as from different fields and influences.

It would be simple to think that this type of event functions as an act of consecration for a creator in the Caribbean, but I see it more as an opportunity to see ourselves reflected in others and to understand our difficulties and possibilities.

Artistic manifestations function as narrative exercises of imagination in response to the world around us, but what happens when the artist moves in an environment of bridge-identities, mixtures and static identities that transform the individual into a product of new colonialisms?

I think that these exercises of imagination must be sharp, audacious and based on the idea that, at some moment in time, we will become ancestors, or part of someone else’s past.

During this edition of Caribbean Linked I worked on a large format canvas, on which I displayed several portraits in a schematic way, referencing the plurality and diversity of the islands.

I also worked on some ceramics on themes of interest, references to oral traditions, myths and legends, trades of the past.

The most positive aspect of my participation in this residency is that I was surrounded by creators and sensitive people who seek to tell their own stories, in an environment that often does not support them. The not so favorable side is that, seeing myself reflected in other artists, I was able to put a name to some of my imaginary concerns.

There are no good or bad actors, only communities that act according to certain systems. We must seek to stop the academic invisibilization of Caribbean artists, as well as other phenomena such as ‘The theft of the story’ and other aspects related to ‘justice or the right to language’.

Samuel Sarmiento, Lost trades and other short stories, Ceramics, variable measurements

I believe that this road does not end here, and that we, as artist-managers, must continue working to develop the future we want. Personally, I can say without doubt that Aruba is not the capital of Street art in the Caribbean, even if Forbes magazine declared so. On the contrary, local artists do not receive much-needed support, and many times, they have to put on performative acts of gratitude in front of local authorities who indirectly take credit for years for these individual efforts…

Although the Caribbean Linked team makes an enormous effort to make these kind of events possible, there is still a distance between the artists and the cultural organizations of their respective islands. I think it is time to decide who will remain in the identity memory of our respective communities, whether it be organizations that do not work, or us.

These micro-political exercises can improve cultural management and artistic practices in the future.

Thanks again Caribbean Linked, Ateliers ’89 and Fresh Milk for trusting my work.