Art Cuba: The New Generation

By Holly Block; Cola Franzen et al. | Go to book overview

NOTES
1.
"Although conceived on the basis of, and for, the artworks, the event-program also involves notions of assistance or collaboration, through an alliance with the institutions." Alexis Somoza and Félix Suazo, from the exhibition catalogue for El objeto esculturado, Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales (Center for the Development of the Visual Arts), Havana, May 1990.
2.
One year later--stimulated by the ideas proposed in La casa nacional--Dagoberto Rodríguez Sánchez and Alexandre Arrechea Zambrano (who later formed Los Carpinteros with Marco Castillo Valdés) presented Para Usted (For You) in the Partagás Cigar Factory ( Havana, 1991).

In a 1998 interview, Los Carpinteros recounted to me the importance that this event had for the future trio: "In that show," explained Alexandre, "we wanted to offer as a work of art what we'd learned from the tobacco industry. Indeed, the model for the production of our art came from that sui generis industry: its union activity, the creation of a single object through the artisanship of various individuals, the finite nature of the product in the hands of the consumer, the provisional life of el habano. . . ." Before an audience comprised essentially of tobacco rollers, they tried to create the flux and reflux of the codes and procedures in the production of art and in the artisanal manufacture of tobacco. They complemented all this with a performance in which they pretended to be professors of "tobaccology." The performance made clear that the artists wished to give back what they had extracted from the factory, through a detailed cultural, sociological, and historical investigation. Referring to Para Usted, Dagoberto insists that the connections established there between the artistic and extra-artistic were aimed not so much at a dissolution of those boundaries but rather at "the creation, in a metaphorical sense, of a circularity in the very meaning of tobacco production for the nation; of this, the tobacco worker had no immediate consciousness, at least during the act of production." (Author interview with Dagoberto Rodríguez Sánchez and Alexandre Arrechea Zambrano, Havana, 1998.)

3.
Tania Bruguera, Memoria de la postguerra (editorial note), Havana, November 1993, p. 1.
4.
Luis Camnitzer, "Memoria de la postguerra," Art Nexus, no. 15, Jan.-March 1995, p. 30.
5.
Author interview with Sandra Ceballos. All of the remaining quotes in this essay are taken from interviews by the author between 1998 and 2000.
6.
These exhibitions include Daño (Harm), Glexis Novoa, 1994; Viven del cariño (They Live on Love), Marta María Pérez , 1995; Chago--Eyaculaciones con antecedentes penales (Ejaculations with a Criminal Past), Chago Armada, 1995; Work in Progress, Luis Gómez, 1995; Trofeos de guerra fría (Cold War Trophies), Ernesto Pujol and Manuel Alcaide , 1995; Adentro es mío (What's Within Is Mine), Ezequiel Suárez, 1995; Entre Miami y La Habana (Between Miami and Havana), Eduardo Aparicio, 1996; Historias del Barrio (Stories from the Barrio), Alberto Casado, 1996; El increado (The Uncreated), Ernesto Leal, 1996; Noches (Nights), Ibraham Miranda, 1996; El debutante renuente (The Reluctant Beginner), Jorge Luís Marrero, 1996; Ojos desnudos (Naked Eyes), Abigail González, 1998; and Adorado Wölfli (Darling Wölfli), Sandra Ceballos, 2000.
7.
At the Fourth Bienal in 1991, the work of such important artists as Luís Gómez, Ibrahim Miranda Ramos, Belkis Ayón, and Kcho gave the lie to the generally accepted judgment that Cuban art was in an irreversible crisis. Kcho was not, in fact, a participant in the Bienal, but his solo exhibition Paisaje Cubano (Cuban Landscape) at Galería 23 y 12 took place at the same time. The success of this extraordinary show guaranteed the artist not only an invitation to the next Bienal but also an immediate and definitive place in international circles. Kcho's high acclaim in the established art world during those years was unique for a Cuban artist.

By using an ironic title, Paisaje Cubano (Cuban Landscape), a minimalist aesthetic, and recycled or discarded objects and materials, Kcho alluded to a fragile and precarious ideological universe. This heralded key themes in the development of his future work, which would deal with the issues of exile, insularity, the national identity, the temporary versus the eternal, and migration. One year later, Kcho had a solo exhibition in the Museo Nacional in Havana and immediately began to participate in important international events, among them the biennial art shows of Havana, São Paulo, Johannesburg, Istanbul, and Kwangju, South Korea; he also received the 1995 UNESCO Prize, among other awards.

8.
I refer to Heidegger's well-known statement: "The point is not to exit the circle, but to enter it in the correct manner."

-23-

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Art Cuba: The New Generation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Introduction - Remembering Why 7
  • New Cuban Art Y2k 12
  • Notes 16
  • Notes 23
  • The Pleasure of Reference 24
  • Culture and Society in the Work of Cuban Artists 30
  • Notes 35
  • Plates 37
  • The Artists 149
  • Selected Chronology and Exhibition History: Cuban Art Since the Revolution 160
  • Selected Bibliography 168
  • Index 169
  • Acknowledgments 173
  • Credits 174
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