Pi­o­neer woman

Cuban artist Aurora Molina

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPOS -

School chil­dren in Cuba be­gin each day with a short pledge to em­u­late the sto­ried rev­o­lu­tion­ary Che Gue­vara. Be­gin­ning at age five, artist Aurora Molina told Pasatiempo, stu­dents are known as los pioneros, or pioneers (in the ser­vice of com­mu­nism). Molina, who grew up in Ha­vana be­fore em­i­grat­ing to the United States as a teenager, re­mem­bers those morn­ings well, though not fondly. “As I got older, I started un­der­stand­ing that these were words I was made to say, but not words I meant to say.” In an at­tempt to psy­cho­log­i­cally process the ex­pe­ri­ence, Molina cre­ated Los Pioneros, an in­stal­la­tion of ki­netic pup­pets that will be on dis­play at Art Santa Fe. Molina is one of sev­eral Cuban artists ex­hibit­ing with Mi­ami’s Conde Con­tem­po­rary at Art Santa Fe.

In Molina’s in­stal­la­tion, the iden­ti­cally dressed pup­pets in their shorts and ker­chiefs salute in re­sponse to the phrase “Pioneros por el co­mu­nismo” (Pioneers for com­mu­nism), and then call back, “Ser­e­mos como el Che!” (We will be like Che!). Molina gen­er­ally uses fiber and sculp­tural el­e­ments in her work, which of­ten has so­ciopo­lit­i­cal themes, such as the role of women and the el­derly in so­ci­ety, but she doesn’t con­sider her­self a po­lit­i­cal artist or ac­tivist. Los Pioneros is the first piece she’s made about the com­mu­nist regime in Cuba. She chose pup­pets be­cause she wanted to play with the idea of ro­botic ma­nip­u­la­tion. “It’s some­thing that comes to mind when I think about those days,” she said. “You have to do the same thing ev­ery day at the same time, so it’s like you as­sume this au­to­matic mode. I wanted to cre­ate the same dy­namic.”

Molina was born in 1984. As a child she swore al­le­giance to com­mu­nism on week­days and went to Catholic mass on Sun­days. When she was eight or nine years old, these two forces came into con­flict when a com­mu­nist march she’d been made to prom­ise to at­tend fell on a Sun­day. “As a child, you think you’re com­mit­ting a sin if you don’t go to mass. I was very naive, and I told my teacher that I was un­able to go to the march,” she said. At the time, her fa­ther, a pain­ter with a public rep­u­ta­tion, had left the coun­try and was con­sid­ered a de­serter. “They called me up dur­ing the morn­ing hour at school, took me out of my line, and said they were tak­ing my scarf to make an ex­am­ple of me for choos­ing to go to church in­stead of the march. They were try­ing to go af­ter my fam­ily. Ev­ery­one pointed at me be­cause they knew I was the daugh­ter of some­one who had com­mit­ted trea­son against the regime.”

The masks on the child­like fig­ures in Los Pioneros are of older peo­ple, the age the first gen­er­a­tion of stu­dents un­der Cas­tro’s rule would be now. Molina wanted to work with the idea of “residue,” be­cause be­ing a pi­o­nero stays with you. She’s been show­ing the sculp­ture in Mi­ami for a few years, and though she knew she’d get an emo­tional re­ac­tion from Cuban view­ers, it was view­ers from some Euro­pean coun­tries who have had the most cu­ri­ous re­sponses. “I was only think­ing about Cuba when I made it, where they brain­washed a gen­er­a­tion. But peo­ple from Poland, from Ukraine, some of them have got­ten very an­gry and ir­ri­tated with the piece. I didn’t know other coun­tries had pioneros. I would ac­tu­ally like to learn more about that re­ac­tion. For me the sculp­ture is cathar­sis.” — Jen­nifer Levin

Aurora Molina: Los Pioneros, 2013, six soft sculp­tures with a ki­netic mech­a­nism

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.