Demons and profanities

/ 11 June, 2015

One among many, because not all or not even most of the many and diverse works that can be seen in this town taken by the Havana Biennial, is distinguished by its complete lack of conceptuality. With no rhetorical juggling, without penalties and with lots and lots of glory, without covering the shame, with unbridled humor and lucid brazenness, it toured half of the capital in full sun, to be seen by neighbors, passersby and anyone who wanted to see it, from El Vedado to La Cabaña fortress.

Suddenly I was there, in midst of Aquelarre event. I was accompanied by my old cell phone which, fortunately, still takes me out of some troubles and even takes photos. In front of me, with outrageous brazenness, there was a Willys jeep, ridiculously painted, which front bumper said: “I was a Willys, now I am a Lada”.

That, just that detail, and right at this minute, with the sudden winds affecting this island without previous forecast from the day of San Lazaro, is a warning, an alert, a profound, angry , hard and fleshless statement to those who can read behind the words. They are only four words, but for once the visual equation is defeated and those four words say more, much more, than one million colorful snapshots.

Countless scarecrows hung from the Willys (sorry, I meant the Lada), including dark butterflies, golden ghosts, spectres resurrected when the night ends, demons with wings, blue officials of the shades, angels of death, thirsty satyrs, soulless daubs. They were laughing, rejoicing. There is nothing to celebrate, but they are already celebrating.

A very black coffin full of white crosses was attached to the jeep, at its top. The mortuary box was labelled in very yellow letters, on all its four sides said in Spanish: bloqueo; in English: blockade. It does say “embargo”, that misleading euphemism that neither costs saying it nor says anything. It said “blockade” with all the letters which is not the same, nor is equally suffered.

The occupants of the hopeful Lada were advancing the funeral of the blockade; they were touching it with their own desire. Now that when you suddenly look out the window and, where it never was, where it was unthinkable, see another flag besides mine, now when so many works of many artists speak of peace, tolerance and nothing else, this jeep with all its demons seems a profanity. This jeep gives priority to the vital question, the human question. It does not carry a formal gloating, does not play at being “polite” and speaks frankly.

Then I saw the artist in the middle of everything, come out of nowhere. It was, is, Alberto Lescay, checking his work finally ready, before giving the signal to start. After his voice, the jeep went to tour Havana, and in four steps I was with Lescay, introducing myself to him, nervous and grateful that someone, he, for me, and for many, him to say a word. When he saw me, he stared at me with a look that came from far away, as if he were looking at me from the other side of the Atlantic. I had only one question for him: Master, why, now that it seems that things will change between Cuba and the United States, and now that so many of these works deal with this subject but only from the joy and celebration, do you have just launched such a specific claim?

Then he replied: “Because while there is time, it is important to incorporate at least one second for that demon to be over.”

I thanked him, turned around and walked away smiling. The funeral of the blockade had begun to tour Havana.


Ernesto Pérez Castillo

Ernesto Pérez Castillo

La Habana, 1968. Escritor. Premio de Novela de la UNEAC por Haciendo las cosas mal (2008). Ha publicado los libros de cuentos Bajo la bandera rosa (2009), Filosofía barata (2006) y las novelas Medio millón de tuercas (2010) y El ruido de las largas distancias (2011).



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