History Lesson at Havana Factory

/ 21 November, 2014

Until the end of November, visitors can enjoy at Havana Factory the exhibition La utilidad de la historia (The utility of history), curated by Concha Fontenla and Alejandro Machado.

The utility of the story is something that nobody in their right mind would call into question. History is the story through which we know the past. And that story is usually made by people who study, scientifically, the events occurred; not only in order to know as accurately what happened, but the writing of hi story also involves a reflection and interpretation on the past reality. Interpretation that, inescapably, operates from the perspective of the present, through the lens of culture, ideology, politics, lifestyles, collective projects, etc. So, history, like knowledge, is never naive, often favors some and makes others invisible.

And what would be art’s contribution to this debate? I think a lot. Art is a way of producing knowledge that comes in counterpoint with other cultural discourses. The artist’s gaze is generally skeptical, and questions and dissents where immutable truths often run. Art seeks to create its own stories, its own interpretations of the facts, it also wants to give its opinion, to be part of a collective debate that concerns us all, because we walk on the soil and subsoil of the past, from that experience we project ourselves to the future, and that critical dialogue is vital to any society.

Most of the artists participating in this exhibition use history, its symbolism, myths, what is written and omitted; they metabolize all that cultural and historical imagery, and return it transformed into another type of discourse; a speech that uses the visual, object, textual, audiovisual field, as applicable; a speech that is not intended to didactically inform the public about such and such event. On the contrary, art creates a space for the play of interpretations; a game where truth has no more authority than others; a game in which, in any case, it is you who must write in your mind, either for yourself, or to tell others your own interpretation of the facts, i.e., your own truth.

The usefulness of history in this exhibition is transmuted into the usefulness of art, giving us the ability to sensory, perceptual and reflectively experience, another way of owning the past.

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