Intersections: Or the Will to Resist the Prosperous Adversity

/ 23 July, 2019

Intersections: Or the Will to Resist the Prosperous Adversity

The difference of opinion must be nourishment; not pugilism. At the end of the day, none of us, separately, is too important: It is that knot, hampered and multiple, that profuse beam of Cuban culture that moves us, enamors us, leads us to study every day and to enjoy an artistic experience that manages to summarize, in valuable images, all, contradictory and good, that has been the life of Cubans.

Rufo Caballero[1]

In Havana, the city breathes Biennial. The 13th edition of the most expected event of the visual arts in Cuba will be held from April 12 to May 12, 2019. In a socio-cultural context that is at least controversial, around which different kinds of questions are projected, the former Biennial of the Third World is already a verifiable reality. (…) In the adventure that presupposes the gestation of a cultural event that unites not only artists, but also communities, independent individuals and institutions with names and surnames, a place stands out: Factoría Habana.

The Center for the Experimentation of Contemporary Art, attached to the Office of the City of Havana Historian, has been one of the galleries invited to be part of the substantial curatorial proposals that make up the exhibition program of the Biennial. For the occasion, Factoría Habana will be showing the works of renowned Cuban artists and has extended the invitation to other creators from Mexico and Africa.

Intersecciones…Cuba/Mexico/Africa takes up the three levels of the gallery space, among which it distributes its curatorial genesis; theoretical body that is subject to the idea of ​​confluence. This exhibition is the last stage of the work in progress: In Itínere, started in mid-2018 and belonging to the exhibits Convergencias, by Gonzalo Córdoba / Luis Ramírez, and Divergencias: Paradigma líquido by Rafael Villares, invited also to be part of this last stage of the process. Those of us who are familiar with the curatorial proposals and the museographic work carried out in Factoría―not only in Biennial times―recognize the commitment to make visible the procedural discourses of contemporary art. Intersecciones pays tribute to that desire, to some extent, but according to its curator Concha Fontenla, “this time it will prioritize Cuban conceptualism” as a metaphor of resistance.

The audience attending Intersecciones will be received by Cuban artists’ works, some of them previously exhibited, such as: País Deseado (1994) by Antonio Eligio Fernández (Tonel), a symbolic installation of the Cuba of the 1990s, reflection of our most superb kitsch and a through-and-through introspective displacement of the islander; La Ausencia (2011) and Terapia (2019) by Yoan Capote, sequences referring to the same installation, in which hangers in the shape of an island are stripped of all clothing, displaced, in the face of the void of an uninhabited place. In this first moment of the exhibition, a dialogue is generated between works produced by Cuban creators and in which the communion of codes is clearly perceived. In an attempt to destroy the context that has understood them, they drink from that reservoir of experiences rooted in the core of Cuban society.

Other pieces located on the ground floor are: Gabriel (2018) by Marco A. Castillo, an installation composed of six Roman scales, linked by a chain that balances them in direct allusion to the precarious stability of an economy that survives on a tightrope. On the other hand, Archivo fosilizado, from the series Work IN Paper (2018) by Fernando Rodríguez; sheets made out of pressed paper pulp extracted from 100 copies of the Revolución y Cultura magazine, one of the most important cultural publications within the Cuban intelligentsia after the triumph of the Revolution. (…) Unquestionably, both the aforementioned artists and the rest of the names that make up the list of this first museographic section have made of the rhetoric their flag, of metaphor their escape valve, of heteronomy of the sign, the weapon to denounce and raise awareness about a reality that, knowing it is immovable, simulates prosperity.

The Mexicans Lucila Aguilar, Andrés Klimek, Sergio Donis and Amor Muñoz, and the Cubans Gustavo Pérez Monzón, Clara Porset, Gonzalo Córdoba and Luis Ramírez, coincide in the first floor with poetics rooted in craftsmanship. Functionality, furniture design, object re-use and re-signification, collaboration and the preponderance of the means of production, as well as large-scale interventions, are included in this second level exhibition. (…)

Inside Out closes the cycle of this upward trajectory through the Intersecciones of Factoría Habana. Isabel Moura and Natalia Palombo have curated a project involving Ayọ̀ Akínwándé and Athi-Patra Ruga. Two artists who exhibit for the first time in Latin America and do so with sculptures, videos and photos. The presentation of the African continent, a multicultural territory, like ours, in which underdevelopment, cultural segregation and prejudices govern and subjugate the individuality of the human being. (…)

Factoría Habana has certainly set its sights on covering in its immense scenario the micro-stories that have defined the most recent Cuban art, to thus be in communion with the GREAT STORY that aims to consolidate the 13th Havana Biennial: “The Construction of the Possible.” There have been times when it has managed to intercept, dialogue, converge, iron out the rough edges, share, reconstruct ties, make visible and, to some extent, question; but it could be that its discursive and logical thread is lost before so much stunning objectivity. Monumentality and unjustified interaction cloud its desire for transgression; although I consider that Factoría Habana will continue to be one of the places of obligatory attention within the Havana gallery circuit. There, that giant of O’Reilly that has been active for ten years, as well as adversity, has served and fed us all the contradictory and good, which as the critic said, has been the life of Cubans.

[1] Rufo Caballero. Los dioses mandan. In: Agua Bendita. Art critic, 1987-2007. Artecubano publishers. Havana, Cuba, p. 32

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