About El Yuma

/ 1 March, 2017

(…) Ever since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US at the end of the year 2014, in the midst of the renewed enthusiasm and curiosity for the island, many international exhibitions of Cuban art have been organized, promoting a comprehensive, inter-generational and multi-genre perspective on the artistic forms developing in Cuba at present.

This time we were of the opinion that we could encourage a group of Cuban of artists to openly reflect on their perceptions about the United States of America. After all, Americans have constructed their own vision about the rest of the world and shared it openly, sometimes on the basis of lack of knowledge and extreme stereotypes. In the case of post-revolutionary Cuba, the oversimplification and bias increased.

However, El Yuma does not intend to be a response to this approximation, it is just an attempt at dialogue. (…)

“Yumas” are all foreigners in Cuba, but the most Yumas of all, the real Yumas, have always been Americans. When someone travels to the US to visit or emigrate, it is common to say “I’m going to Yuma”. (…)

The artists participating in the exhibition were born in Cuba from the end of the 60’s to the beginning of the 90’s, most live and work in the Island, but all have had the possibility of traveling, even to the US, at least once. There are some who live and work between Havana and another part of the world, including Miami, so their points of view are no necessarily local. We asked them to provide their personal opinion about the United States, ranging from stereotype to solid reflection, from criticism to apology. Likewise, we did not set limits to the topics to be tackled.

We will find works that deal with the theme of the Cuba-US relations, as in the cases of Meira & Toirac, Alejandro González, Abel Barreto and Mari Claudia García. (…) Ernesto García Sánchez and Francisco Alejandro explore the tremendous influence that the US has exerted on the development of music and visual arts in Cuba. (…)

Angel Ricardo Ríos also directed his attention to the processes of appropriation and assimilation of codes and icons of American mass culture (…). In his case, on account to his prolonged stay in Mexico, he carried out a paradoxical deconstruction of Walt Disney’s great myths, such as Mickey and Mini, through the craft production of birthday party pinatas. (…)

The showpiece that implies the most direct criticism to the arrogant and hostile manner in which the US has established and maintained its hegemony over the world is Levi Orta’s. He decided to print the KUBARK interrogation manual, used by the CIA and the military in Latin America since 1963 and more recently in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Base, and requested it be symbolically and systematically erased. (…)

In close connection with the latter, we have Sandra Pérez’s sculpture piece, as if establishing a poetic balance in the understanding of the USA. She decided to use a mirror where to look at ourselves, and integrate all of us, but to preserve, almost as a wound, a fragment where to understand we are alone. (…)

I thought about Sandra Ramos, one of the artists in this exhibition. I left my commentary on her work for the end, because it is the confusion that she intends to capture in her collages perhaps the best expression of the latest events. After two years in the US, she considers that the society’s complicity, unity and convergence has more to do with the frantic energy and the intense rivalry and trivialization of the way of life promoted by the media than with a political and cultural foundation. (…)

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