Open the doors wide

/ 1 December, 2017

At the end of 2016, the book El cartel cubano llama dos veces, by Cuban researcher and curator Sara Vega Miche, published by Ediciones La Palma of Spain, as part of its Cuba Collection, directed by Ignacio Rodríguez, was first launched in Havana before its sale to the public.

In large format (22 x 31 centimeters) and with 144 posters reproduced full-page, plus 56 reduced and accompanying the texts, for a total of 200, the reader will appreciate a modest part of one of the most transcendental expressions of Cuban contemporary visuality which represented, according to Cuban and foreign writers and critics, the visible face of Cuban art during the 1960s and 70s.

On this occasion, following other titles published in Cuba and abroad (on which Sara Vega has also contributed), posters are offered not only by the renowned artists of the so-called “golden age” of the sixties (Antonio Fernández Reboiro, René Azcuy, Alfredo Rostgaard, Antonio Pérez Ñiko, Eduardo Muñoz Bachs, Julio Eloy, Rafael Morante), but also those of recent generations of Cuban designers, as a living demonstration of their continuity and vitality, as a way of confirming the remarkable revival and interest that Cuban posters continue to awaken in diverse latitudes (remember the enthusiasm of American essayist and writer Susan Sontag on publishing her outstanding book on Cuban posters in 1970).

It is important to note that the book deals only with posters made for Cuban films and not with the rich and extensive production carried out in the Design Department of the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) in relation to movies from Europe, the United States, Asia, Africa, and Latin America screened in Cuba. If the author and publisher had proposed such a gigantic task, it would undoubtedly have surpassed the 245 pages of the text that we are dealing with now.

Divided according to decade, from the 1960s to the first decade of the 21st century, the text reviews the changes in the codes and representations of the Cuban film poster, as well as its sources of influence worldwide (especially Polish posters) and, very conscientiously, of the vicissitudes and “miracles” carried out by those designers and screen printers, almost heroic when put into perspective, to overcome the shortage of appropriate materials and necessary equipment until presenting their sketches and printing them in the ICAIC screen printing workshop; including those of the new generations of designers in recent years (Nelson Ponce, Raúl Valdés, Giselle Monzón, Michelle Mijares Hollands, Edel Rodríguez, Claudio Sotolongo, Idania del Río).

(…) The evaluation of this area of national graphic history carried out by Sara Vega positions the Cuban film poster in a just place within the history of Cuban culture, along with painting, drawing, sculpture, engraving, the photograph, the installation, the object. It shatters any prejudice, and demolishes barriers as regards minor and major arts, fine arts and crafts, high and low culture. And it contributes to a better understanding of the local and global phenomena of visuality. The importance of this art form has led it to be recently recognized as National Memory in Cuba, a first step to reach, perhaps in all likelihood and with ample justice, the Memory of the World category granted by UNESCO to these maximum achievements in the field of human creation. (…)

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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