MA­BEL POBLET

First the Idea, Later the Tech­nol­ogy

On Cuba - - LIGHTS AND SHADOWS - Estrella Díaz Pho­tos: Jorge Luis Borges

The year 2017 was one of great cre­ative in­ten­sity for Ma­bel Poblet and for the ma­te­ri­al­iza­tion of dreams: she par­tic­i­pated in the Cuba Pavil­ion in the Venice Bi­en­nial, “some­thing I al­ways yearned for and I feel greatly hon­ored to have been cho­sen. I took to Venice an in­stal­la­tion ti­tled Es­cala de val­ores [Scale of Val­ues]. It was truly im­pres­sive.”

With more than 50 per­sonal and col­lec­tive ex­hi­bi­tions in the United States, Por­tu­gal, Rus­sia, South Korea, United King­dom, Colom­bia, Ecuador and Spain, among other coun­tries, Poblet rec­og­nizes that hav­ing stud­ied in San Alejandro (2007) and hav­ing grad­u­ated from the Higher In­sti­tute of Art (2012), gave her the nec­es­sary tools to break away from the academy and open her own cre­ative path. She af­firms that the fact that the teach­ers are, at the same time, in­de­pen­dent artists fa­vors the di­a­logue and the ex­pan­sion of views, while she rec­og­nizes her ad­mi­ra­tion for the work of San­dra Ramos and also re­calls Wil­liam Pérez, who in­volved her “in ki­netic art.”

An­other of the fun­da­men­tal and de­ci­sive in­flu­ences for the young artist was ex­chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ences with Julio le Parc in his work­shop in Paris: “be­ing close to the mae­stro gave my life a rad­i­cal turn be­cause get­ting to know a per­son with so much wis­dom, so sweet, with so much love and with so much pas­sion for his work, made me feel for­tu­nate about my own work, about the ca­reer I chose and, above all, to re­al­ize how much can reach the en­tire world from a small work­shop. That cer­tainty is over­whelm­ing.” And she im­me­di­ately rec­og­nizes that such an in­flu­ence can be per­ceived in the se­ries Pa­tria (Home­land) in which she plays with move­ment, light, ki­net­ics and, although they are static works, they can be cat­a­logued as op­tic ki­netic art.

Although Ma­bel Poblet doesn’t make a pure en­grav­ing, she does use it for work. It was the spe­cialty that opened for her a field of ex­pres­sion for ev­ery­thing car­ried out un­til now: “I was in­ter­ested in en­grav­ing, not to make mul­ti­ple works but rather to make unique works based on the mul­ti­plic­ity of one same el­e­ment; that is why there is a se­ries of small frag­ments in most of my works which make up a greater im­age. I be­lieve that way of do­ing comes from my for­ma­tion as an en­graver.”

When Ma­bel Poblet was barely a child and walked through the streets of her na­tive Cien­fue­gos, she dreamed about be­ing a bal­le­rina, but she lacked the nec­es­sary phys­i­cal ap­ti­tudes: her mother, an ar­chi­tect, and her fa­ther, a renowned children’s theater com­pany direc­tor, en­cour­aged her to find her­self. She started weigh­ing her op­tions in a school in the lo­cal­ity which did not give cour­ses on en­grav­ing, the spe­cialty she was in­ter­ested in. That’s why she ar­rived in Ha­vana when she was just 16 years old and was able to en­roll in San Alejandro, the pres­ti­gious arts academy from which she grad­u­ated in 2007. Defini­tively in the cap­i­tal, Ma­bel dis­cov­ered her “way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing” and her “life’s pas­sion”: vis­ual arts.

Con­sid­ered one of the most out­stand­ing emerg­ing artists in the Cuban con­tem­po­rary con­text, she forms part of the 2000 gen­er­a­tion with an aes­thet­ics that is her very own. Her themes have to do with the fam­ily, love, friend­ship, in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal re­la­tions: “ev­ery­thing that is part of life flows in my work,” she says in an exclusive in­ter­view for OnCuba. I WAS IN­TER­ESTED IN EN­GRAV­ING, NOT TO MAKE MUL­TI­PLE WORKS BUT RATHER TO MAKE UNIQUE WORKS BASED ON THE MUL­TI­PLIC­ITY OF ONE SAME EL­E­MENT; THAT IS WHY THERE IS A SE­RIES OF SMALL FRAG­MENTS IN MOST OF MY WORKS WHICH MAKE UP A GREATER IM­AGE

The self-ref­er­en­tial was ev­i­dent in the be­gin­nings, es­pe­cially in her first se­ries ti­tled Lu­gar de ori­gen (Place of Ori­gin) based on pho­tos of her fam­ily and of spots in Cien­fue­gos. Sub­se­quently, in Aba­cos (Aba­cuses) the cre­ator fo­cuses on mem­ory and on how we cre­ate a host of in­for­ma­tion through­out life: “I started get­ting to know more per­sons and stum­bling upon so­cial and po­lit­i­cal events that started af­fect­ing my daily life. All those ex­pe­ri­ences start set­tling and form part of cre­ation; that is why I be­lieve I have dis­tanced my­self a bit from self-ref­er­en­tial­ity, to speak of more global themes based on hu­man in­ter­re­la­tions.”

The hu­man body has also been a sup­port, a ter­ri­tory ex­plored by Ma­bel based on the cri­te­rion that all hu­man be­ings have com­mon ex­pe­ri­ences, even if they have dif­fer­ent lives: “we all see some­one born, some­one die; we move from a city, re­turn to it and leave, we meet some­one, we say good­bye, we meet again. In my work – af­ter I left be­hind the self-ref­er­en­tial – I started work­ing with my own body, but to speak of other per­sons’ ex­pe­ri­ences. One of those ex­am­ples is the work Sim­ple­mente bella [Sim­ply Beau­ti­ful] in which I col­lab­o­rated with a group of women in­mates in the pris­ons of Hol­guín, in east­ern Cuba. Un­til now Sim­ple­mente bella and Ana are two de­ci­sive pieces in my ca­reer.”

Ma­bel Poblet’s work is a con­stant, con­tem­po­rary di­a­logue that is not in­dul­gent at all with Cuban re­al­ity and also with mat­ters of a plan­e­tary char­ac­ter, for ex­am­ple mi­gra­tions. Her in­stal­la­tions and sculp­tural ob­jects are backed, first, on the idea and later on the tech­nol­ogy. For ex­am­ple the work Marea alta (High Tide) – which forms part of the se­ries Pa­tria – “is fo­cused on Cuba’s most re­cent his­tory and how from abroad ev­ery­thing looks beau­ti­ful, but the jour­ney cross­ing the sea can be very dan­ger­ous. That’s why the piece is made based on many frag­ments, of mir­rors that allude to what you can en­counter on the way that is be­yond your ex­pec­ta­tions,” she af­firms.

Although she con­fesses that her dream work is “achiev­ing the noth­ing, the ephemeral, what you see and don’t see,” she still hasn’t reached that point, but she is con­vinced that it is “very com­pli­cated to get to the sim­plic­ity of the noth­ing.”

On the other hand, the color red fre­quently ap­pears in her work be­cause, for her, “it is a sym­bol of the for­bid­den and the wished for; it is in our blood – which is a vi­tal liq­uid -, but at the same time it is found in the traf­fic, in the econ­omy – which can allude to dan­ger, to the stop sig­nal; it is the color of love and of pas­sion and there­fore very tem­per­a­men­tal.”

MAREA ALTA (HIGH TIDE) – WHICH FORMS PART OF THE SE­RIES PA­TRIA – “IS FO­CUSED ON CUBA’S MOST RE­CENT HIS­TORY AND HOW FROM ABROAD EV­ERY­THING LOOKS BEAU­TI­FUL, BUT THE JOUR­NEY CROSS­ING THE SEA CAN BE VERY DAN­GER­OUS. THAT’S WHY THE PIECE IS MADE BASED ON MANY FRAG­MENTS, OF MIR­RORS THAT ALLUDE TO WHAT YOU CAN EN­COUNTER ON THE WAY THAT IS BE­YOND YOUR EX­PEC­TA­TIONS”

Marea Alta (High Tide), from the se­ries Pa­tria (Home­land) / 2015 Mir­ror frag­ments, sea im­ages mixed in threads. Pen­e­tra­ble in­stal­la­tion Vari­able di­men­sions

Es­cala de Val­ores (Scale of Val­ues), from the se­ries Pa­tria (Home­land) / 2014 -2017 / Vari­able Di­men­sions / Lam­i­nated Cuban me­dia

Buoy­ancy / 2017 / Sound in­stal­la­tion, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with mu­si­cian An­dres Levin Loud Speaker, video pro­jec­tion, mir­ror and plex­i­glass struc­ture / Vari­able di­men­sions

Desde Aden­tro (From In­side), from the se­ries Madeja (Hank) / 2016 / 100 x 100 x 300 cm / Photo over plex­i­glass, thread

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