Art On Cuba - - Index -

Last July, the Eye’s Walk Dig­i­tal Fes­ti­val in the last edi­tion of

2017, en­ti­tled Er­moúpoli: In­side Out hosted for the first time the Ate­lier Mo­rales in the cap­i­tal of Sy­ros, Greece. Er­moupoli re­cieves ein­ter­na­tional pub­lic ev­ery year and this time it hosted per­sons from dif­fer­ent re­li­gious and so­cial ori­gins.

The works cre­ated by Teresa Ayuso and Juan Luis Mo­rales were for three sum­mer days ac­knowl­edged by a het­ero­ge­neous au­di­ence, from a new ap­proach: video map­ping art. The Mo­rales stu­dio, in co­op­er­a­tion with Amer­i­can artist Katy Ka­vanaugh, in­au­gu­rated the first night with video art from the pho­tog­ra­phy se­ries Arque­ología, hom­e­naje a Eliseo Diego (Arche­ol­ogy: Trib­ute to Eliseo Diego). This ma­te­rial was screened with back­ground sound on the wall of a neo­clas­sic build­ing from the 19th cen­tury, typ­i­cal of the ar­chi­tec­ture in the cap­i­tal.

The ran­dom­ized images shown from Arque­ología pre­sented the in­te­rior of de­serted houses in Ha­vana, prop­erly in­te­grated to the ex­te­rior of the mon­u­ment in the Greek cap­i­tal. With this con­cept, Cuban images are taken away from the orig­i­nal con­text. While show­ing them on the walls of the Aegean Univer­sity, this in­te­rior– ex­te­rior work was an­i­mated, trans­fer­ring the in­te­rior from an­other con­ti­nent and an­other cul­ture to the Mediter­ranean.

This dig­i­tal com­po­si­tion is ben­e­fited by the com­mon fact that Greece and Cuba are both is­lands. The ex­ist­ing and the im­ported iconog­ra­phy are har­mo­niously in­ter­wo­ven. The images are merged with melody to ex­change two ex­pe­ri­ences united by po­ten­tial fac­tors: cul­ture, mi­gra­tion, econ­omy. Through this num­bers game, two cul­tures con­sol­i­date, de­spite the ge­o­graphic dis­tance be­tween them. The uni­ver­sal na­ture of the two is­lands is in­vig­o­rated with images that cre­ate a true sceno­graphic de­sign.

Si­mul­ta­ne­ous to the pro­jec­tion of pho­to­graphs of old Ha­vana houses on the neo­clas­sic wall, the sound­track of sea waves and birds cap­tured the streets of Sy­ros, to­gether with the voices of Fil­lia Mil­i­daki, Katy Ka­vanaugh, Yan­nis Ado­niou and Juan Luis Mo­rales recit­ing in Greek, Span­ish and English the poem Arque­ología, by Cuban poet Eliseo Diego:

Dirán en­tonces: aquí es­tuvo la sala, y más allá, donde en­con­tramos los frag­men­tos de lev­ísimo barro, el sitio del calor y la dicha.

Luego ven­drá una pausa, mien­tras el viento alisa los hi­er­ba­jos in­con­solables; pero ni un so­plo habrá que les evoque la risa, el bue­nas tardes, el adiós.

With this poem re­cited and pro­jected on the Greek mon­u­ments, Arque­ología ex­plored new artis­tic tracks, sur­pris­ing passersby and stim­u­lat­ing the senses of those watch­ing this ephemeral noc­tur­nal work. The au­dio­vi­sual per­for­mance searched for the essence of video tech­nol­ogy based on sound and visual phe­nom­e­non. The images con­trasted with the screen/wall and the sound, as trans­mis­sion el­e­ment. The silent com­po­si­tion and the hu­man ab­sence from the images con­veyed grief and con­cern about the ne­glected pat­ri­mony.

Teresa Ayuso and Juan Luis Mo­rales, both Cuban artists, trained ar­chi­tects, and liv­ing in Paris since 1993, have pre­vi­ously worked on pat­ri­mony adrift, as demon­strated the se­ries Bo­híos (2003), Los in­ge­nios (2004), Los bal­n­ear­ios (2007) and re­cently the se­ries Va­raderos. In Arque­ología, the com­po­si­tion is con­densed, clas­si­fied and they aban­don the ur­ban con­text to con­vey their con­cern to con­sis­tently work the theme of ar­chi­tec­tonic pat­ri­mony. The spir­i­tual and visual im­pact, the idyl­lic and lu­cid at­mos­phere of in­te­ri­ors with unan­i­mated ob­jects, with an in­tended uni­verse cap­tured by the pho­to­graphs, and that sense of sloven­li­ness, over­sight and aban­don­ment marks their works.

Other par­tic­i­pants, in­clud­ing fif­teen artists from across the world such as: Fred L’Épee, Olga Gu­seva, Camille Tur­lot, Eric Sz­er­man, Pani Pawlosky, Ana Perola, Zavier Ovidio; were able to ex­change twenty eight elec­tronic images with an au­di­ence in­ter­ested in nu­mer­i­cal cul­ture. Be­ing able to use a per­for­mance to ex­press in dif­fer­ent spa­ces of the city and to cre­ate a scene in the cap­i­tal, is at the same time to skill­fully project into new prac­tices of nu­mer­i­cal cre­ation. This dig­i­tal en­counter held in Greece, brings to­gether Teresa and Juan Luis’ con­cern about the her­itage scene in Cuba.

In the fes­ti­val in Greece, how did the video map­ping art ap­pear?

That was an idea of the artist Katy Ka­vanaugh. She knew about the fes­ti­val and she had seen our work in a congress in Kaza­khstan and in the Venice Bi­en­nale of Ar­chi­tec­ture, in 2016. She be­lieved our work fit­ted in the Greek Fes­ti­val and sug­gested we make an au­dio­vi­sual, con­sid­er­ing our pho­to­graph se­ries. That was wise, given the theme of the fes­ti­val: In­te­rior /Ex­te­rior. Katy took care of the edi­tion, since she is a video pro­ducer and so this is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the artist and Ate­lier Mo­rales stu­dio.

How did Ate­lier Mo­rales start do­ing pho­tog­ra­phy?

Since the be­gin­ning, when we worked with ar­chi­tects, we used pho­tog­ra­phy as sup­port for large scale mu­rals. Pho­tog­ra­phy was a prac­ti­cal tool for col­lages, and dur­ing trips to Cuba in the late 90s and the 2000s we took pho­tos of ev­ery­thing we saw of aban­doned sugar fac­to­ries. Sub­se­quently, the se­ries

Los in­ge­nios emerged.

How did the idea of Pat­ri­mony Adrift emerge, why that con­cern?

In Cuba we wit­nessed the loss of some ar­chi­tec­tonic her­itage, not val­ued at all. We de­cided to doc­u­ment, study and clas­sify that pat­ri­mony, and to show it so that peo­ple (in or out­side Cuba) might be aware of the ex­ist­ing pat­ri­mo­nial wealth, not only that of colo­nial ar­chi­tec­ture which has been pri­or­i­tized over oth­ers. Since then, in our se­ries we have drawn at­ten­tion to the lost in­dus­trial pat­ri­mony and that which is dis­ap­pear­ing like “sugar fac­to­ries”,

“the Cuban peas­ant’s habi­tat”, “the bo­híos”. There are small scale health and tourism fa­cil­i­ties like “spas” that are ne­glected. Houses from Repub­li­can times with no colo­nial style are not val­ued.

The same oc­curs with coastal ar­chi­tec­ture, an­other valu­able pat­ri­mony. We had this con­cern in Cuba and in Paris, reg­u­larly vis­it­ing the is­land to doc­u­ment it and to work on our new se­ries.

What is the new project Va­raderos about?

First, the word va­radero means the place where ves­sels are dry docked to be pro­tected from waves or to be re­paired; it may also be a project that makes no progress. The se­ries Va­raderos (with an“s”) started at the be­gin­ning of last year. We vis­ited Va­radero beach dur­ing a cold front. We walked the shore and we in­ven­to­ried de­stroyed houses, de­mol­ished houses and oth­ers in dev­as­tated con­di­tions. Many houses on the coast­line, fac­ing the sea, have dis­ap­peared. It is a con­tra­dic­tion since many ho­tels have been built near the coast and we want to show the pat­ri­mony of houses built at the turn of the cen­tury from the orig­i­nal stones, wooden houses, now dev­as­tated.

The ar­chi­tec­ture in the area is dis­ap­pear­ing and we de­cided to make a se­ries about coastal ar­chi­tec­ture , about mari­nas, about re­cov­er­ing the mari­nas, to trib­ute the mari­nas by Mario Ro­mañach. This topic has not been tack­led by con­tem­po­rary artists; it is con­sid­ered some­thing from the 19th cen­tury. We would like to up­date this, and there­fore ques­tioned all the pri­vate coastal ar­chi­tec­ture about to be lost.

Could you have worked in pho­tog­ra­phy in Cuba?

Maybe not, there is an im­por­tant com­po­nent of nos­tal­gia, be­ing abroad to go back and take an­other look, the look you can take only when you are over­seas, when you are in Cuba you do not have the same vi­sion.

Could you give a piece of ad­vice to young­sters in Cuba, as a pro­fes­sor and with the ex­pe­ri­ence you have at­tained?

Se­ri­ously, to pay at­ten­tion to the pat­ri­mo­nial her­itage. I be­lieve there is some aware­ness; there is a pat­ri­mony restora­tion school, of some pat­ri­mony. Pre­cisely, our work is to draw at­ten­tion to some for­got­ten pat­ri­mony. To be on alert; a good thing in Cuba is that no real prop­erty spec­u­la­tion has ex­isted in years and there are still great mon­u­ments from the 50s and from Repub­li­can times. An eye must be kept on this in com­ing years. We have to make ar­chi­tec­ture stu­dents sen­si­tive about this. A good ex­am­ple is Fábrica de Arte Cubano and El Cocinero, ne­glected for years and turned into an avant–garde cul­tural fa­cil­ity and restau­rant. This is an ex­am­ple to be du­pli­cated to show how a valu­able pat­ri­mony can be re­gen­er­ated and not nec­es­sar­ily turned into a mu­seum. When we think like this, it does not mean that it should be frozen in time, the point is that places are to be re­ac­ti­vated and re­vi­tal­ized. There are many highly val­ued build­ings in Ha­vana that, as pat­ri­mony, should be re­stored and given new life. ƒ

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