Not All that Shines is Gold

/ 23 November, 2014

Towards the final days of the summer of 2014, the Sixth Contemporary Cuban Art Salon (Salón de Arte Cubano Contemporáneo, SACC) was inaugurated in Havana in three seats: the Center for the Development of Visual Arts (Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales, CDAV), the Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center (Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam) and the Cuban Photographic Library (Fototeca de Cuba), which received the works chosen by a team of the CDAV specialists. (…)

In this sixth occasion (…) devoted itself to inquire into the reflexive, critic, parodic, ironic, sufficient and insufficient aspects of an area of our artistic productions (photography, interventions, installations, multimedia, sound effects, network art, game art, media performance…) in the midst of a “particular and contradictory cultural space, deeply marked by its technological and economic limitations; in a surprising state of disconnection-connection, low tech,” this last part mentioned and underlined by its organizers.

Aiming to carry out this inquiry, research, reflection, or however we want to call it, on such a thorny, clear and acknowledged issue in our society and trying to take it to the field of art (even when it is stated that parody, mockery, denunciation may achieve it) is, in my opinion, more than an illusion, more than a feverish delirium, more than manifest vanity that can only lead us to self-pity and that, as a general rule, almost always ends up again in the recognition of our technological and economic poverty wearing makeup.

(…) If it is a “curated” Salon of Cuban contemporary art, something undoubtedly valid, then we must entirely take into account this complex denomination and include everything produced today in the country and not only a narrow strip: if it is not so, it would be, also valid, one more exhibition in the institutional scene.

(…) What is interesting in this large magnitude type of event (which let’s hope will not continue to be named Salon) is that not only exceptional works, new values (whether emergent or not) may be discovered, but also research processes with a deep contextual root, in agreement with our world, with this one we live in day by day, as an essential bases of a great part of contemporary art.

Taking into account so many and rich particularities, incites, with much probability, to a greater reflection within the Cuban artistic scene itself, as well as with its relationship with the audience.

Let us not cloud ourselves with the brilliance of recent gold. Gold has always shone.

Nelson Herrera Ysla

Nelson Herrera Ysla

Art critic, curator, poet. He is co-founder of the Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center and of the Havana Biennial, an event he led from 1999 to 2001, and where he is currently curator. He has lectured in numerous countries and published numerous critical texts in specialized publications of Cuba and abroad. General Curator of the XVI Paiz Biennial of Guatemala, 2008. Essay Jury of the Casa de las Américas Prize, 2005, and international art events in Latin America. National Award for Arts Criticism Guy Pérez Cisneros, 2007, and National Prize for Curators 2013, both in Cuba.

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