MS17 Art Project, New London’s youngest and most innovative gallery with three exhibition spaces, including a temporary public art space opened an exhibit with an eclectic mix of installations and prints by Ibrahim Miranda whose work is in major museum collections including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and as well as that of Aliosky Garcia Sosa, Head of the Department of Printmaking in Havana’s prestigious, Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA). Both artists live and work in Havana. The exhibit La Experiencia Velante (The Veiled Experience) is on view April 16 to July 17, 2016.
The works of Aliosky Garcia and Ibrahim Miranda are imbued with the pretense of meaning. Their images serve as lexicon and index, legend and map – providing clues, establishing location and direction. Veiled in the pretense that masks the real meaning of their narratives, their symbolism functions as language and thus is intended to be ‘read’. From the printing of labels for cigar boxes and produce crates to posters to the more serious tasks of social inquiry and critique.
Ibrahim Miranda has been consumed with maps for a significant part of his life. The maps in the Mapas installation for this exhibit are a selection that spans 2004-2015:
“These are basically maps that have been negated, erased, destroyed by the presence of paint and ink; unusable (though by no means useless) maps which the artist has brusquely deprived of their basic, primary function, their precision, their exactitude, in order to transform them into representations also strangely exact and precise of a territory more vast and unknown. A territory that may have Cuba as a point of reference, as a center, and yet is not exactly Cuba, strictly speaking. At least it is not the physical, geographical Cuba of superficial cartography, nor the historical Cuba described in books, nor even the mythical, poetic Cuba, but rather a much more obscure, amorphous Cuba, a private, unconfessed Cuba that sometimes manages to emerge from the turbulent ocean of our subjectivity, flailing its legs and tail in exasperation, biting, clawing and roaring at the air and the water that stubbornly surrounds it, and surrounds all of us as well. It is this highly secret island, whose real and definitive shape constitutes our greatest enigma, that is the subject of these new “maps” created by Ibrahim Miranda.”
Also on view amongst other works and hung on rope and held-up on clothespin across the gallery are Miranda’s now famous Cubrecamas installation. The works for Cubrecamas are the product of a collaborative effort in which the artist enlists the participation of the community at large. The artist’s goal was to “rescue some of the patchwork techniques so commonly used by the seamstresses, namely by those who do their work in rural regions”. Traditionally, the patchwork coverlets are pieced together from scraps of recycled fabric and textiles. Once sewn, Miranda executes a personal lexicon of symbols upon each Cubrecamas in the form of black embroidery. In this incorporation of castoff materials repurposed for utilitarian then repurposed again for artistic function the artist explores concepts of commodity and domestic implications. This exploration is given further nuance and layering of meaning in the artist’s subsequent loaning out of the completed bedspreads to people with which to interact as objects symbolically imprinting upon them that bodily proximity.
Aliosky Garcia Sosa’s work is solidly grounded in the processes of printmaking, and is dominated by pseudo-surreal symbolic imagery, and like surrealism his content is shrouded in dream-like imagery. Likewise, those images are intended to function as language, one that requires interpretation by the viewer. For Garcia-Sosa they are the vehicle for keen observation and insights into the state of the Cuban experience – the La Experiencia Velante (The Veiled Experience) from which comes the title of this exhibition. The works express the social contradictions and challenges of life in Cuba’s Special Period, but also serve as a microcosm of more universal realities that define specific time or geo-political space.
 Orlando Hernández, Havana, November, 1999.