A meditation on social obligations, a reflection on the need for countermelodies and a critical engagement with history are all built into the theme of the highly anticipated fifth edition of Black History Month Florence with the co-promotion and patrocinio of the Comune di Firenze. OBBLIGATO is around the corner with over 50 events dedicated to Afro-descendent cultures and people, with a wide range of noteworthy new entries. From ‘On Being Present’, a virtual interface on the website of the Galleria degli Uffizi examining Black African presence in the collections, to a group exhibition at Le Murate Art District examining respectability politics and an archive project in collaboration with Villa Romana that is the fruit of two years of cross-institutional student-driven research in Florentine archives, there is something for everyone this February. 2020 is also the launch of BHMF’s first branched chapter with Black History Month Bologna, directed by Patrick Joel Tatcheda Yonkeu.
Founded in 2016 as a cross-institutional initiative that coordinates, curates and co-promotes events with over 40 institutional collaborations and over 150 events in our past 4 years of work, the month-long series of events is broken down into Art, Film, Music, Talks, Theater/Dance, Kids, Workshops, Tours and Food. A desire to reach beyond the flattened media portrayals of blackness in the global context and an interest in recovering black history across Italy is at the root of this artist founded and directed initiative.
This year is a first for many of BHMF’s projects, among which the YGBI Research Residency; a BHMF project in collaboration with Ontario College of Art and Design and The Student Hotel. The project engages six Afro-descendent artists, all Italian residents (a couple of whom are Italian born), gathering for a ten-day residency guided by international curators Andrea Fatona, Simone Frangi and leaf jerlefia in conversations about diaspora.
In jazz, Obbligato is a counter melody that can have equal importance and dominance as the central melody line. In a moment where media and numerous political leaders have pushed society to fear the extinguishing of one history through the inclusion of alternative perspectives, these events serve as a reminder that when we have multiple voices and histories, we have a fuller understanding of history itself.