From Celebration to the Capital

/ 4 October, 2014

Notes on a Reasoned Migration of Elephants and Other Tales


(…) Elephants are nomad animals that move with the only purpose of renewing their sources of water and food, guided by a rigid leadership based not only on strength, but especially on knowledge: those who guide the herd have the responsibility of protecting the group and finding safe paths to guarantee this eternal march. There is no migratory route with prefixed departure and return. They do not build a niche or colony, not even temporal, in the places where they feed or quench their thirst. And their behavioral logic simply consists in surviving at all cost.

(…) These determining factors should be taken into account when judging Memoria & Memory. JEFF’s sculptures, in spite of usually evoking lightness and affection, have nothing to do with decoration and entertainment and, on the contrary, establish a necessary dialogue with the site for which they are intended.

(…) In the winter of 2010, another big inflated metal sheet sculpture suddenly appeared in front of the artist’s studio: a snowman approximately two meters high who rose his arms up and smiled at the Buenavista inhabitants. We later learned that this was only a mock-up for the final piece, which would be five meters high and that the artist intended to move, as he did with the elephants, through various points of the national territory with a useful mission: to freshen “the thing.”

A bunch of large format candies were also conceived by JEFF to place in public spaces in Havana with the final purpose, of course, of sweetening “the thing.”1

(…) The symbolic construction underlying in JEFF’s sculptural groups tries to penetrate into the most intimate and colloquial recesses of Cuban contemporary imaginariness (…) and are, because of their concept, works in process unceasingly transformed in accordance with a historical logic. This way to understand the interactivity of the sculptural object as a mutable structure in a non-physical but social space and time creates a precedent in contemporary Cuban sculpture. (…)


  1. Díaz, Estrella. “Entrevista con José Emilio Fuentes Fonseca (Jeff). Perfecta combinación entre vida y arte” (Interview with José Emilio Fuentes Fonseca (JEFF). Perfect combination between life and art), In: La Jiribilla, no. 448, year VIII, Havana, December 5 to 11, 2009
Beatriz Gago

Beatriz Gago

She is graduated with a Degree in Science from Havana University. She has devoted the last fifteen years to an approach to contemporary Cuban art as a researcher, art critic and Independent curator. For almost a decade, she has been working for Archivo Veigas, Arte Cubano (Havana) and Ediciones Vanguardia Cubana (Madrid).



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