Commissioned by La Plaza de Cultura y Artes
Los Angeles is often celebrated for its multicultural and racial diversity and used as a reference point for policy makers discussing the future of America’s racial landscape. Similarly Brazilian leaders are well-known for discussing race in Brazil by utilizing the racial democracy metaphor, which is used as a way to quell racial divisions and conflicts. Despite marketing themselves as racial utopias where everyone is welcome (the official 2017 Los Angeles County campaign slogan), both Los Angeles and Brazil fall short in cultivating sufficient policies that systematically address race and inclusion. More specifically, they fall short in addressing the concerns of its school-aged afro-descendant populations. Everyone is Welcome, is a multi-medium installation that looks at the intersection of race, identity, and educational policy through the perspectives of Afro-descendant teenagers in Brazil and in Los Angeles.
In the foreground, a welcome rug signals the viewer into a kitchen where the decor recalls a shared history designed to evoke notions of home. Although simplistic in this particular setting, home is a theme Canedo often returns to in her work. In the background, a television plays a looping video from Brazil in Black and White, a PBS documentary where Brazilian students discuss race and identity, and the country’s higher-education affirmative action policies.
This documentary was used to spark a conversation between five Afro-descendant students from Los Angeles. The retelling of their experiences as self-identified Afro-Latinx students was recorded and compiled into a seventeen-minute audio recording. The audio plays through a walkman which is positioned at the center of the kitchen table alongside two headphones. Here, the adjacent objects suggest a shared listening experience and provide the viewer with the option of participation. The works on view point to a collective narrative while the position of the works within the installation draws attention to their distinctions.
Video: 17:37 minutes, Wide Angle, Brazil in Black and White, PBS
Audio: 17:58 minutes, Featuring Cecilia Alvarez Blackwell, Maliyah Puerto, Aaron Sanford, Naomie, and Zuri Adia.