(…) CIFO Talks / Volumen Uno and Shifting Perceptions Transnational Movements between Miami and Havana (in the Pérez Art Museum Miami, PAMM) were events well constructed by today protagonists and personalities in Cuban culture, careful of our artistic heritage, in whose paths there is also a sense of a long line of work and serious efforts to achieve a given interaction among the artists inside the island and those based outside. I am referring first of all to CIFO’s collector and president Ella Fontanals Cisneros, CIFO’S curator and director Eugenio Valdés Figueroa and artist and promoter Elizabeth Cerejido.
(…) In CIFO Talks numerous participants from the audience, specialists, assistants and even another member of Volumen Uno, Rogelio López Marin (Gory), who not very easily lavishes in public, took part. To introduce those of us who would take part, there were words by Eugenio Valdés, moved by these same purposes activating CIFO’s politics and its programming. Less than a year ago Eugenio was named curator and director of CIFO. He carried on his back 25 years organizing exhibitions, beginning by his contributions to the Havana Biennial (1990-1997), then led by Llilian Llanes, but what really reinforced his prestige was heading Casa Daros in Brazil. The dynamics CIFO Talks may achieve, with Eugenio in charge, remains in the hands of an expert who always appeals to direct dialogue with the artists.
Ella Fontanals Cisneros later underlined the importance of gathering in exhibitions, lectures and books the lost stories of generations of artists who worked in very adverse circumstances, and none of them could dream with living from their work, when Cuba was closed to commercialization or going through dark times of deprivation and economic crisis.
(…) But if CIFO propitiated a warm meeting, that of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, PAMM, was at the same level, corroborating how enriching these meetings are. In CIFO, the review of history prevailed and PAMM’s program focused on the individual poses in this present of transnational movements and perceptions that rapidly evolve. Both events displayed a genuine exercise on tolerance and serenity. One of the programs of Shifting Perceptions…, a panel headed by Elizabeth Cerejido, author of the project, completely fill the wide auditorium of the Museum. At the beginning, the allocutions of two of the panelists on their works: Sandra Ramos and Alexandre Arrechea, in English with simultaneous translation, were undoubtedly of personalities living their best moment, first line creators, truly accomplished, also expressing their experiences as artists before and after living in other latitudes.
Perhaps the intervention of the third panelist, Glexis Novoa, specifically highlighted because he was an important artist in the 1980s, settled in Miami, now midway between that city and Havana, where he spends long seasons. He explained how some North Americans and Cuban Americans, who never acquired one of his works in his exhibitions in Miami, go to Cuba and buy them there. “It is something curious—he commented—, but we cannot deny Cuba is suddenly opening to international art market and projecting itself as an attractive touristic focus. In Havana they do not let you work and constantly bring to the studio buses with foreign visitors who come to see what you do and, in passing, to buy.” They may be tele-directed from the United States by dealers who, together with others in the island—rather as touristic agents—ask for commissions from the artist.
Elizabeth clarified that, in these processes of reunion on both shores, one cannot press anyone to be in public presence. Some artists from Miami—she pointed out—preferred to receive their colleagues of Havana (those of the bus) in their studios and homes. The fourth who spoke was Cuban-American painter Emilio Pérez, born in New York, who specially focused on the meaning of his reunion with the homeland of his parents through an invitation to participate in the known collateral event of the Havana Biennial, Detrás del muro (Behind the Wall), a group exhibition curated by Juan Delgado. (…)