You never, Heraclitus, tath your River was invisible

/ 1 September, 2016

Sandra Ramos is, together with Belkis Ayón, Abel Barroso and Ibrahim Miranda, among others, protagonist of the turn engraving experienced in the decade of the 1990s. It is a phenomenon known as “vindication of Cuban engraving”. But Sandra did not work in this expression only: she also produces installations, videos, paintings, collages, and so on.

In all these incursions she is possessed by a concern residing in the migrations (physical and mental) and their link with memory, loss and banishment. Undoubtedly, if writing on the topic of exodus her name must appear; and if talking on identity or on our “damned circumstance of water everywhere” associated to death  and to deep existential problems (as absence, isolation and levity), her name must be the first to be mentioned. It is thus that her work may be catalogued as a sort of insular Apocalypse that —this is difficult to achieve—is not localistic. Poetry occupies a preferential place in her entire work and that data helps to shape her universal nature.

Sandra is the author of engravings turned into classics since a long time ago: La maldita circunstancia… (The Damned Circumstance), La balsa (The Raft) and, in my opinion, another classic of video-creation: Malecón. From 2015 to today she has focused in producing books-objects that, I suspect will also have their Parthenon. Being like that, it is not strange that North American professor Linda S. Howe, who has plaid a fundamental role in the promotion of books by Ediciones Vigía (Matanzas, Cuba) and of culture in general, has invited Sandra to design a book based on poems by Gastón Baquero, chosen and translated into English by Dr. Howe. The work team of Vigía would be in charge of the production and of adding some elements enriching the original proposal making the book warm, and making it an object. The title suggested by Linda was A orillas del río invisible (In the Margins of the Invisible River), a paraphrase based on some lines that gather together, with accurate aim, the spirit of one of the specific poems—El río (The River)—and of all in general: “(…) Because silence is the language of our tribe/and we were not about to lose the invisible river Banks/where we were rulers of the world and masters of mystery.”

Those of us who attend the presentation at Seis-Seis Estudio de Arte Contemporáneo may testify it. I may seem emphatic, but there could not be more coherence. It is not preposterous to ask Sandra to design a book-object and much less a book based on poems by a poet as Gastón Baquero. She, who in 2009 made an installation entitled Poemas invisibles (Invisible Poems), precisely based on poems of that classic of Cuban letters born in faraway Banes (Holguín, Cuba). If that book-object is a multiple original with a limited edition, the assignment is even more organic, since the logic of this type of printings is something she perfectly dominates. Agustina Ponce, director of the editorial house that has more years in the world making this type of books, asserts that it is the first time that Vigía produces an “artist book” with all the weight of the expression, because the usual has been that the editors from Matanzas suggest texts and invite an artist to illustrate them without any other responsibility in the architecture of the book. If we did not know it (and it is sure we didn’t), we were attending something like a historical moment in the lives of all those implied in that editorial process, very close to art and its autonomy. (…)

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