Drapetomanía is a tribute to Grupo Antillano (1978-1983), a suppressed visual arts and cultural movement that privileged the importance of African and Afro-Caribbean influences in the formation of the Cuban nation. Grupo Antillano valiantly proclaimed the centrality of African practices in national culture and saw their work as part of a diasporic conversation on art, race and colonialism.
They viewed Africa and the surrounding Caribbean as a vibrant, ongoing and vital influence that continued to define what it means to be Cuban. This exhibit seeks to recover the history of this group and their important contributions to the art of Cuba, the Caribbean and the African Diaspora.
The title of the exhibit, Drapetomania, makes reference to an alleged disease described in the mid-nineteenth century by a slave physician in the plantations of Louisiana. From the Greek drapetes (escape, run away) and mania (disorder, mental illness), the main symptom of this disease was the slaves’ irrepressible and pathological urge to flee and to be free.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website