Continuing with Uniarte at new location in Otrobanda

I had founded Uniarte in 2010 and had organized various exhibitions, workshops and meetings among Caribbean artists in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The idea of ​​uniting and having a greater interaction between artistic disciplines, was born due to my own need to have a space where different disciplines could join to exhibit and collaborate with each other.

A need for a space where respect and challenges are given and experiments are accepted. A home for artists who have urgency and stories to tell through their work and studies, and who receive support in their professional growth. A house where the artist and the public their needs and struggles are understood. Uniarte was created to inspire the curious like me.

In 2015, after completing the Master in Artistic Research in The Hague, I returned to Curaçao to continue developing as a filmmaker and professional artist. Avantia Damberg asked me if I would be active with Uniarte in Curaçao and indicated that there is a need for a space for artists. In November 2015, after talking with Marco Cheis, Uniarte had the opportunity to use the empty Casa Moderna in Madurostraat in Punda for 6 months.

The building gave the opportunity to prove the right of existence of an art space / incubator space in Curacao. After the success of the first 6 months, the oral agreement was extended to 3 years. With Project Space Uniarte, we created a place in Casa Moderna where young and old artists could receive an audience, develop, inspire and  be inspired. Because in the end we were unable to obtain a contract for the space in Casa Moderna, and without clear agreements,

Uniarte was forced to reconsider what type of location and method would be useful to create a sustainable space and infrastructure for interdisciplinaries, visual artists and cultural agents on the island.

This has led to a review of the strategy and plan of the foundation to ensure a sustainable and professional approach. It is necessary to have a place where we have our independence and we are not “extinguished”. We want to establish a base where artistic practices, knowledge and the network can grow.

So today you are at our new home.  Carthagenstraat 18, it has 3 storeys where the ground floor has a kitchen, an audiovisual room, an exhibition room and entrance hall. Second floor has a corridor, fixed workspaces, residency room and a small balcony, on the 3rd floor we will be having the flex workspaces.  We welcome all artists and cultural producers who are in need of a flex or fixed space. Memberships are possible and for prices you can contact avantia or myself.

So now you know about the building what about Uniarte, What does it want and do?

Well Uniarte is an independent non-profit Foundation that provides a platform for artists, curators  and cultural agents involved in research, experimentation, production and dissemination of contemporary artistic practices from and about the Caribbean.

And uses a common space for being together, learning and developing. Not only for artists themselves, but also by connecting the public with art & cultural programming.

We work on different lines of action that intersect and complement each other, to provide spaces for meetings and conversations about art practices, in dialogue with social and political realities of the island and region. We strive for a dialogue between local, regional and international professionals and projects that share ideas and skills related to art production.

It is important for me that we can develop our own thoughts and strategies, within a space like  Uniarte, where our own ways can be developed,

I think of the word Uniarte as an allusion to union, and it is the intent of union that is wanted in this space, achieve unions that generate experiences of reflection and change for us …

In my vocabulary, I often use the word shup, Like a plate of food where everything is on top of eachother or mixed up. “E mitar mitar , of brua of tur kos huntu.”

One could then interpret the shup as a synonym for union. The shup for me then became one of the main ideas that Uniarte proposes. It is also important to conceive the space Uniarte as a way of thinking, of dialogue and poetics.

This has become clear in conversations that have been made between my person and the artist Raily Stiven Yance of Consultorio Rota in Maracaibo, which is now based in Bogota.

during a short residency at the beginning of this year we came to examples that illustrate the idea of “lo Propio” own strengths that exist on the island;

  •  Imagine as if bandabou  was a kind of dessert like thought.
  • The smoothness and softness of the montuno dance steps, as a methodology to develop our practices.
  • Things like Joyful sadness methods,
  • El sufrir bonito
  • The know unwritten rules
  • The metalanguage and codes that are being practiced daily.
  • The remake of objects in the Caribbean such as dolls with bottles, are practices that have occurred in the history of the island. This as a form of our appropriation and relationship with the “idea” of ​​the world,
  • Not from the energy of nostalgia but to establish our own creativity, as a policy to solve our problems.
  • Think of the reutilization to achieve objectives without preconceptions.
  • Also  el mestizaje and hybridization as catalysts of our thinking towards the universal.

With all this I want to communicate that Uniarte is a place for intuition to develop our curiosities, with the aim of creating a fluid platform where we can be more free and aware of our role as a community on this surface we inhabit, and where we are contributing our ideas and emotions, to help achieve a better time for all.

Uniarte is aware of its role in the region and through the development of my career, I have been establishing a relationship with different spaces that are references in the Caribbean,

such as: Atelier ’89 by Elvis Lopez in Aruba, IBB and Alice Yard in Trinidad & Tobago that was founded among others by Chris Cozier. I see that there are young initiatives like Art Fama and Platform A in Aruba as well.

I also follow initiatives that have been busy for a while and have a reputation like a Beta Local, and the Río Intermitentes project that took place in Cuba thanks to María Magdalena Campos-Pons

and I hope we can collaborate in the future. The foundation focuses primarily on supporting the so-called emerging artists, while at the same time creating a platform where emerging artists, mid career and established artists can meet and connect with each other.

In addition to the artists themselves, this also has advantages for the overall artistic development in Curaçao and the position of art in Curaçao in the international art world. 

And to sum up Uniarte its mission is thus to provide a structural contribution to the visibility, development, growth and existence of emerging professional artists

to increase public involvement in contemporary art through exhibitions, lectures and other art & culture related projects and programming.

I would thank my partner Lisa who has supported me and allowed me to spend a lot of volunteer hours into Uniarte so it could reach where we are now.

To Avantia Damberg, Hector Raphaela, Aron Bak, Albert Schobaar en Lou Nisbeth Who believed in my vision since the beginning.

To Marco and Bernie cheis and family who gave me their trust to use Casa Moderna for 3 years and thanks to that we were able to start our journey in Curacao.. 

Servisio cleaning service, Norma Cova, Miliska birge, Teatro Kadaken, Guen Gustina, Chris Peralta, Malsam Collective, Aron Bak, Miriam Sluis,  Inonge fashion design, All the artists and creatives that used the space at Casa Moderna,

Marlon Reina , Hester Jonkhout, that formed part of cinema moderna,  Margo Groenewoud, Richenel Ansano, from reclaiming history en Ailsa Anastacia, Sasha Dees, Uniarte board  ,Michelle Capriles, MCB, Bankgiro Loterij , Cultuurparticipatie en Ennia

A thank you to all the donations we received so far and the visitors who have attend at our events. I hope you are as excited as we are with our new location and that we may see you coming back to experience our programming.


Sharelly Emanuelson