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PERSONAL STATEMENT 

As a person of African descent born in Europe, I remember how white Italians often doubted my own awareness of being Italian and European. Conversations still happen today, decades later, daily, when I go to a store to buy something or when people ask me: “where are you from?” In Europe, there still is the mindset that if you’re Black, you are not European. It happens during important national symbolic events like the European soccer finals when some Englishmen doubt the Britishness of their Black players who failed to make their penalty kicks in the last European Championship 2021.

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 Black African figures in Renaissance paintings have always been central. I was looking for that.

I was interested in why Africans were obviously there, but they were never told by art historians today.

Most art historians are white people.

When European young students explore the subject of history, they often encounter a single chapter about  Black History. Typically, this chapter centers on "The Slave Trade".

So Black Europeans discover that this represents the entirety of their historical narrative.  Our shared history plays a pivotal role in defining our identities. The aim of this documentary is to impart the knowledge that we indeed exist and have European ancestors. History defines who we are. There is much evidence and research, and paintings, monuments, religious iconography, Black saints, and foreign travelers’ accounts that tell us about the “Black presence” in Europe. Black life was omnipresent, yet the narrative that is selectively told remains problematic.

- Fred Kudjo Kuwornu

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BIOGRAPHY

Fred Kudjo Kuwornu is a multi-hyphenate artist and scholar whose work is deeply influenced by his background as a person of African and Jewish descent, born and raised in Italy and moved to the United States, with Italian, U.S. and Ghanaian passports. His artistic and scholarly practice revolves around exploring postcolonial, historical, and intersectional themes, including issues related to identity, the global African diaspora, and mobility. His roles as a filmmaker, activist, educator, producer, and film curator, allow him to engage with diverse communities and initiate conversations about pressing societal issues.

 

One of the key inspirations for Kuwornu's work is the famous essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?" by the Indian-American scholar Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. This essay delves into the challenges of representing and amplifying the voices of marginalized and oppressed groups from the Global South.

 

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Some of Kuwornu's notable works include:

 

1. "Inside Buffalo" This documentary reconstructs and highlights the significant contributions of African-American soldiers to the Liberation of Europe during the Second World War. 

 

2. Blaxploitalian" In this documentary, Kuwornu explores the presence of Afro-descendant actors in Italian cinema from as early as 1915 up to the present day. The film aims to showcase the diversity within Italian cinema and challenge stereotypes.

 

His teaching experiences at institutions like Colorado College, University of Minneapolis, and Middlebury College showcase his commitment to educating students about important topics related to diversity, identity, and representation. His lectures at over 300 colleges in North America further amplify his influence and reach in spreading awareness and knowledge about these critical issues among a wide range of students and audiences.

The impact of his film production has received awards from organizations like the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Open Society Foundations, Africa no filters, University of Minnesota, Foundation of Venice Biennale, and the Cineteca of Bologna for challenging stereotypes through the medium of the documentary.

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