Garaicoa at the 12th Biennial of Havana

/ 17 June, 2015

A few months ago we talked with Carlos Garaicoa who exclusively told us he was full of projects. Some of these have been already materialized by these days in the expected 12th Biennial of Havana. Garaicoa deals with the organization of cultural projects and his artistic creation. From his studio, located at Vedado neighborhood, he develops many initiatives each year.
The public presentation of the project Artista x Artista took place in this Biennial. His personal work can be seen these days at the Velasco Sarrá Palace (Embassy of Spain) and the building that houses the National Museum of Music, both in Old Havana. This is a public intervention that responds to the name of El cuarto oscuro (The darkroom). He also participates in the group exhibition Crack, in Havana Gallery, which represents him in Cuba .
Artist x Artist is an initiative developed under different formats in order to establish horizontal relations between the younger arts scene and a growing network of cultural institutions and international agents. The first public presentation of this platform for artists in residence in Havana, a project that will be implemented from 2016, took place during the 12th Havana Biennial. Part of the work philosophy of Artist x Artist has been exhibited at the Open Studio concept launched in 2007 by Carlos Garaicoa Studio in Madrid. The platform will create the opportunity and conditions for the stay of international artists in Havana, who will share with local cultural agents, give workshops and will conduct fieldwork and researches. Moreover, Artist x Artist arises from the need to find and generate support from within the artistic community itself in a context such as the Cuban one. An exhibition was inaugurated with the presentation of the platform that includes works that have been part of the Open Studio between 2007-2015. On this occasion there are exhibited works by Ignasi Aballí, Alejandro Campins, Loidys Carnero, Yaima Carrazana, Irene de Andrés, Amir Fattal, Sandra Gamarra, Carlos Garaicoa, Cristina Garrido, Jorge & Larry, Glenda León, Reynier Leyva Novo, Jorge L. Marrero, Yornel Martínez, Rodolfo Peraza, Víctor Piverno, Nicolás Paris, Jhafis Quintero, Ezequiel Suárez and José Eduardo Yaque.
Meanwhile, El cuarto oscuro has been one of the major events in this Biennial. We know the reality around us, the cities we live in, the events that affect us through the way the news circulate. The light projected on the facade of two landmark buildings in Havana invites reading of present in real time, as if the optical device through which the photographic act occurs to be activated. Once again, photography is the pretext to deal with reality and its effects on the documentary method. With this metaphor of the darkroom -taken to the scale of a building, cityscape- the project puts its emphasis on the subjective gaze of the artist on a horizon that articulates town, architecture and story as part of everyday reality. This is a work that tenses the use of images, social effects and architecture as witnesses to the stories of history. The proposal serves as a personal review of the images that appear in the daily press. The work, which was conceived in 2006 as a work-in-progress, proposes, from a selection of pictures from local newspapers, an atypical reading, where new stories and associations of sense arise. After having collected newspapers from different countries for several years, in 2010 the work was exhibited for the first time in the Shanghai Biennale. The pages of the newspapers were intervened with Chinese ink, cancelling the written information and revealing photographic images, evocative of specific issues and reasons. Violence, architecture, hands, graphics of economy, groups of people or noses of presidents are some of the contents and images that populate this “database” available to all. An intervention becomes a ‘bona fide’ document that ensures its legitimacy from real news of a specific day. The darkroom makes a double nod to my interest in documentary photography and archiving on the one hand and control and manipulation of information and news in contemporary society on the other. Images that thanks to the magic of photography or the event that precedes the news come to light for the first time or remain hidden. This is where the core of this intervention, light, becomes the representation of a world in which photography and image remain a defining weight.
Garaicoa’s work is also exposed in the collective exhibition of Havana Gallery. The piece is called Portafolio and it is from 2013. It is an installation where eight gold plates hang on the wall as scaffolding where phrases, events and postures of people against the order and coercion that money power of the big banks exert on individuals are read and staged.

Cecilia Crespo

Cecilia Crespo

She is a journalist. She has received several acknowledgements, among them the National Award of Cultural Journalism granted by the UNEAC and the UPEC to journalists in Cuba who are less than 35 years old. Her texts frequently appear in various Cuban publications specialized in cinema and visual arts.

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