The lineup of the Dekmantel festival, to be held between 31 July and 4 August in Amsterdam, was announced this week and is already involved in debate and controversy. In the voice of the Chilean artist Valesuchi (through his Instagram account), which was joined by many fans equally indignant, the organization failed not to include, among more than 100 names, a single Latin American artist.
To remember that, two years ago, the Dekmantel began a tour of festivals and showcases through South America, passing through São Paulo, Santiago, Medellín, Lima, Bogotá, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. It is likely that the Latin American artists who played in these events, among them Valesuchi (who played in Dekmantel São Paulo in 2017 and 2018), hoped that cultural exchange would be reciprocated at this year’s edition in Amsterdam, which did not happen. The Chilean artist, based in Rio de Janeiro, accused the organization of being “racist colonizers” and said that the goal of cultural exchange was a trick to obtain a greater market reach, stating that he will never accept an invitation to play at the festival again.
The Dekmantel organization responded to Valesuchi’s post with an apology, reiterating the intention to promote the exchange of cultural experiences and saying that they will try that in the future this situation will not happen again.
However, despite the guilty assumption of the organization, this is a discussion that will not close. With the brutal growth of the Latin music industry in almost all modern musical genres, which begins to seriously challenge the hegemony of anglophone music, it is natural for artists to demand more visibility and respect. But at which price? Does it make sense to demand a kind of a ‘share of minimal attendance’ at festivals and other events? It is legitimate to recognize that Dekmantel has taken advantage of the growing popularity of Latin music to expand its business.
But will the criteria of nationality be acceptable and ethical if it overrides the criteria of musical quality? Or, in 2019, do the cultural integration of the people become more important instead of the value of artists?