A Visual Paradise vs. Institutional “Paradise”

June 12, 2017 |

At the Superior Art Institute (ISA) in Havana.

HAVANA TIMES — The exhibition Blind Spot took place between June 3rd and 9th at the gallery belonging to the Superior Art Institute (ISA)’s Visual Arts Department, which had been organized by some students from this department.

When we got there, we were taken aback by a torrential downpour, which changed the dynamic of the event.

Between whispering and embarrassment, the exhibitors, who had also been there until the early hours of the morning the night before to put on the final touches, explained to us that as a result of the leaks inside the gallery, they weren’t sure whether they could open it to the public. This took place during the inauguration.

In the corridor where we were waiting, the cracked roof also let water in.

Nevertheless, the majestic building maintains its beauty, in spite of being neglected.

The rain stopped falling so hard and we were finally able to go inside the maze-like journey of illusion. Performance art, paintings, art installations, digital photography, video art, interactive art and animations had all been carefully and meticulously curated by Aurora Carmenate Diaz who reshaped the discourse and put each one of the art pieces in dialogue.

I quote: “The Blind Spot exhibition explores, discovers, questions the blind spots of many stories in the fictional world which is also art, making the most of its ability to highlight “difficult” issues and to reshape a sensitive universe.

There is a longing for communication that goes beyond the present. Technology is combined with the ruined.

If something stands out from this exhibition, it’s diversity. Every piece expressed its most intimate self in a real way.

Certain first-time impressions could give rise to a chaotic discourse and to omissions, but because I am basing this article on my personal experience, I will appeal to the senses to communicate the moments that I still hold.

During the tour that began with Carteles para los muchachos, by Kevin Avila, using propaganda to articulate his discourse, a play on the line between reality and fiction, between literature and film, politics and religion, where both heroes and saints also become merchandise, a product.

Iconoclasts. Querido padre, Jesus Christ commits suicide in front of the representation of evil: Elegia al buen hombre, by Jesus Hernandez and by himself too, a painting that shocks the viewer: Serie los secretos de la corona, where a group of soldiers stand on bloody land, talking under threatening clouds.

The installation on the worn away wall, old worn-out junk, work with the texture of ads from the 1950s, buried by the coats of paint over time like an indelible mark beforehand, suggested as a vídeo series: Ext-Sujeto- Dia, by Carlos Dieguez.

Uniform, monochromatic, grey tones in grey block Giron buildings: “Serie, calle Pravda, 24”, by Alberto Regueira.

Off by Amanda Echevarria and Hello Stranger by Carlos Aguilera in a more existentialist tone. In the background, a subject orchestrating the silence of invisible instruments, Ad Infinitum, by Viviana Ramos.

Almost at the end, a dinner conversation inspired me to write about this event. A young man, who I forgot to ask his name, but who was clearly part of the exhibition’s organization team and who had also asked for our forgiveness at the gallery entrance because of the leaks, expressed his annoyance at the neglect of the building with great pain.

He said that the State-run Paradiso tourism company receives visitors from all over the world every day, who have to pay a fee to visit the art school building which is almost in ruins.

How much is the fee? It’s a mystery. How much money is collected from these visits? Nobody knows, either. Where does this money go? Nobody knows.

The truth is that it is only the persistence of young people and their teachers that make the gallery look this way. They painted it themselves. However, the leaks played a horrible trick and let us see the hidden side of Cuban institutionalism.

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What's your opinion?

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    A tale of woe which reflects the priorities of the Castro regime. The contrast between the Superior Art Museum with it’s leaking roof and the Hotel Manzana demonstrates that it is more important for the regime to provide comfort for rich capitalist visitors than to maintain buildings than serve the general public. The leaks are not temporary, they occur whenever there is rain and they will only get bigger.

    • rodrigvm

      General public? Foreign wealthy visitors! But the money is needed given the genicidal blockade the US imposes on Cuba. Honduras kills people at wanton, the Philippine’s president is a murderer and no sanctions! Predicando moral en calzoncillos!