A Cuban photography trying to be renewed

/ 6 November, 2014

Cuban visual arts have been characterized by a deployment of genres and supports that give them the status of a peremptory diversity. In the last fifteen years, new artistic trends have marked photography. The works are often conceived as an audiovisual sketch, like a narration or a still images video. And in many cases, a performatic character by the way in which they are assumed, either as documentation of an artistic event or a constructed reality, beyond a certain reality is confirmed.

The existence of several ideas proper of the photographic tradition of the 1990s is palpable in this photograph. Concerns about global and personal issues, from individuality rather than from the collective, is one of these constants, in which the form of expression varies at a larger scale than the expression itself. Thus, the concerns are addressed from a personal “I” and their problems of existence and development in society, both from the social being and individual sorrows, to cite just one example.

However, with the arrival of the new millennium, the manifestation has gone even further to the ambiguity that may be of meanings or technical. One feature of the period is the plastic experimentation, although, from the standpoint of the technique, the continuity is remarkable. However, artists have approached to notions such as documentation (not just of events, but now also of artistic facts) and the fine arts, with a higher aesthetic care, plastic accent and even simulating painting.

Among the genres a ddressed, the use of self portrait is constant, whether to question stereotypes, and for dealing with generations and introspective existential concerns. Arianne Suarez and Mabel Llevat stand out on that. Interior scenarios and cityscapes, reasons as still life paintings, portraits, nudes, street characters, and testimonial acts are caught and handled. All with a rich language of symbols and meanings, in tune with the newest Cuban visual production is approached by artists like Jorge Otero and Jesús Hdez-Güero, to name just two examples.

The range of issues addressed and the way in which the creative exercise is carried out, lead to the recognition of new works as a visual variant prone to be recognized. The speeches have been inserted in more accessible positions of criticism and social participation and perhaps less mandatory of genre and language, except for some figures like Hurí Herrera and some series by Yuri Obregón or Lidzie Alvisa, which have a marked poetic concerning the genre roles .

External influences , both at geographically and artistic level, shape and reinforce the ideo-aesthetic principles with a different sensitivity, as the fact that many of these photographers are trained as artists of another branch, and the dynamics of contemporary world and postmodernism have made possible the loan, relationship or pollution between this and other manifestations. The links of photography with design and its experimental possibilities, as well as its usefulness in performance and video art, motivate creators to develop this field of relationships.

From group visions emerged in the Photography Workshop at the Higher Institute of Arts, the School of Creative Photography of Havana, and some courses or workshops conducted by the National Association of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC by its Spanish acronym) or other institutions, up to individual symptoms, reflection of the full self-teaching, the preset notions are blurred. Creators like Lidzie Alvisa, Mabel Poblet, Julio Cesar Llópiz and Rodney Batista, among others, reflect the innovative individuality that emerges in the century, and proposals such as the one of Quinqué group, highlight the importance of collective work. All of them, through their work, reveal the existence of a Cuban photography that, to express its realities, is being strongly renewed.

These emerging artists have settled on a set of postures moving toward social reflection in its last resort and that is verified on the printed photo. They do not stop in bounties, but in attacking the viewer with messages, which can be both aesthetical and grotesque. These are examples of what could be considered a new photography, which still has much to done and define, but that it is undoubtedly carving the path to a new expression: youth, somewhat irreverent, international and Cuban at the time.

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