ON THE HORI­ZON:

Con­tem­po­rary Cuban Art from the Jorge M. Pérez Col­lec­tion

Art On Cuba - - INDEX - MEYKEN BARRETO GORY (Ro­ge­lio López Marín) − Es solo agua en la lá­grima de un ex­traño (It's Only Wa­ter in the Teardrop of a Stranger), 1986-2015 Black-and-white neg­a­tive film, pho­tomon­tages, and dig­i­tal chro­mogenic prints, ten parts / Col­lec­tion Pérez Art

In­ter­nal Land­scapes is ex­hib­ited at the Perez Art Mu­seum Mi­ami, PAMM, from June 9th, 2017, ini­ti­at­ing the project On the hori­zon: Con­tem­po­rary Cuban Art from the Jorge M. Perez Col­lec­tion. This project has been con­ceived to be di­vided into three suc­ces­sive ex­hibits1 at the afore­men­tioned in­sti­tu­tion whose pur­pose is to bring to light the sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion made to the Mu­seum by Jorge Pérez, main pa­tron of the in­sti­tu­tion and an avid col­lec­tor of Cuban art. For car­ry­ing out this three-part ex­hi­bi­tion, the works to be ex­hib­ited have been selected mainly from a re­cent do­na­tion of 170 pieces, as well as from pre­vi­ous do­na­tions and some new ac­qui­si­tions.

To con­ceive the con­cep­tual axis that would al­low to in­ter­vene this col­lec­tion—which is now in the Mu­seum’s hands—in a co­her­ent way must have been a great chal­lenge due to its marked het­ero­gene­ity. In fact, one of the mer­its of this her­itage is the va­ri­ety of lan­guages and dis­courses that are gath­ered. The cu­ra­to­rial frame and the lead­ing plot cho­sen by the cu­ra­tor To­bias Os­tran­der to es­tab­lish a nar­ra­tive through this col­lec­tion is the con­cept of Hori­zon, taken from a broad and duc­tile per­spec­tive, based on the idea that it ex­presses sym­bol, metaphor and men­tal space and not only a vis­ual el­e­ment of land­scape. As the cu­ra­tor him­self ex­pressed in a note: “The ex­hi­bi­tion is or­ga­nized around the metaphor of the hori­zon line—a mo­tif that ap­pears in many of the works on view—and brings to­gether a strong view of artis­tic prac­tices in Cuba from the last three decades as well as works by young, lesser-known artists work­ing on the is­land and across the globe.”2

Each of the three chap­ters that com­pose the ex­hi­bi­tion must ap­proach the theme Hori­zon from a dif­fer­ent point of view. There­fore, In­ter­nal Land­scapes con­sists of the first re­lease of this ex­tended ex­plo­ration, and ac­cord­ing to the ti­tle, we will find works in which the con­cept is con­veyed in a man­ner that is more sym­bolic than graphic, rather re­lated to psy­chol­ogy, ex­pec­ta­tions, yearn­ings or frus­tra­tions. On the other hand, the ex­hibit pre­tends to es­tab­lish a con­nec­tion be­tween the afore­men­tioned main no­tion of the word Hori­zon and its re­la­tion with the body, the land­scape and the way in which they di­a­logue.

One of the works that greets us and that starts our cir­cuit is the colos­sal sea made of small har­poons cre­ated by Yoan Capote in Is­land (see-scape), 2010. This piece is part of the al­ready no­to­ri­ous se­ries in which the au­thor draws seascapes by us­ing hooks. The hori­zon line and the ocean (main fig­ure to ex­press the limit il­lu­sion seen from the is­land) are the main el­e­ments of a work in which the drama and mon­u­men­tal­ity re­sult is a force­ful graphic state­ment that in­tro­duces us into the logic of the ex­hi­bi­tion.

In this way, as we walk around we find again the fig­ure of “wa­ter” as a link in the pro­pos­als of two artists that dis­course from dif­fer­ent spa­ces and per­spec­tives. Juan Car­los Alom with the pho­to­graphic se­ries Born to be free (2012) and An­to­nia Wright with the video I scream there­fore I ex­ist (2011).

In Alom’s case it is also about the sea, the body and of course, the Hori­zon. The se­ries con­sists of por­traits of Cubans bathing in the coasts of the is­land while they them­selves are ter­ri­to­ries be­ing cast into the sea. Alom cap­tures their faces, their ex­pres­sions and in this way, the vis­i­ble man­i­fes­ta­tion of their thoughts, their na­ture and maybe their de­sires. The is­land par­tic­i­pates in these im­ages in an el­lip­ti­cal way, we know it is there though we can­not see it. And maybe it is this het­ero­topic space of the sea which en­ables us to see from a dis­tance the solid ground, the ev­ery­day life and makes us re­call the liq­uid me­dia in the womb where we came from, that which of­fers a kind of “rare” (be­cause it is sel­dom fre­quent) feel­ing of free­dom and where we per­ceive our lives from other per­spec­tives.

An­to­nia Wright, on the other hand, through an in­tro­spec­tive per­for­mance ex­er­cise makes us wit­ness of a bizarre episode that is re­peated over and over. In this episode the artist is to­tally sub­merged in a pool, a cam­era flashes her im­age in­ter­mit­tently as she screams out while an­other per­son, walk­ing pleas­antly in­side the pool, with its head out of the wa­ter, seems not to no­tice what is hap­pen­ing in the fore­ground. We face two re­al­i­ties that hap­pen si­mul­ta­ne­ously in a com­mon space, a com­mu­nica­tive drama gen­er­ated pre­cisely by the iso­la­tion that the aquatic medium pro­duces. She is there, but no­body no­tices her screams or ex­is­tence, just the spec­ta­tor that is ob­serv­ing from out­side, with­out any pos­si­bil­ity of act­ing… The sen­sa­tion is op­pres­sive and refers us not only to that dou­ble con­di­tion of the sea as a chan­nel to com­mu­ni­cate and at the same time a bar­rier block­ing it, but also to those count­less con­flicts of hu­man groups that ex­ist in our con­tem­po­rary so­ci­ety with­out our be­ing aware of their se­ri­ous­ness, de­spite their des­per­ate screams.

Per­haps some read­ers might won­der who An­to­nia Wright is, as her name is not fa­mil­iar among the lo­cals and why she is in­cluded in this ex­hi­bi­tion of Cuban art. Pre­cisely one of the dis­tinc­tive and wor­thy signs of Jorge Pérez’s col­lec­tion, duly un­der­stood and rep­re­sented in this col­lec­tion, is to have as­sumed a wide no­tion of what Cuban art is. An­to­nia, for ex­am­ple, was born in Mi­ami, from Cuban des­cent, and grew up in a home marked by the cul­ture of the is­land, and that her­itage forms part of her life and work. In the same man­ner, other cre­ators of Cuban des­cent have been in­cor­po­rated in the ex­hibit, like Tere­sita Fernán­dez or that have em­i­grated from the is­land at any stage of their lives, like En­rique Martinez Ce­laya, who left Cuba when he was a lit­tle boy, or Julio Lar­raz, who em­i­grated in his early youth, even others who have moved in more re­cent stages and of course, artists who live in the is­land. This ec­u­meni­cal and un­bi­ased per­spec­tive is pre­cisely one of the main val­ues of this col­lec­tion and what per­mits it to con­sti­tute a con­tri­bu­tion in cul­tural terms and be co­her­ent with con­tem­po­rary cir­cum­stances in which mi­gra­tion flows are more and more fre­quent and mul­ti­di­rec­tional. Be­fore this man­ner of con­ceiv­ing Cuban art, we re­al­ize then that the line of Hori­zon, when it deals with cul­tural phe­nom­ena, must never be a di­vid­ing bar­rier, but rather an al­ways ex­pand­able goal.

And the fact is that the phe­nom­e­non of the di­as­pora, the tran­sit, the voy­age… is fun­da­men­tal to ex­plore the idea of Hori­zon through the body and the land­scape. And this is why in an­other sa­lon we find the se­ries Es solo agua en la lá­grima de un ex­traño (There is just wa­ter in the teardrop of a stranger, 1986-2015) by Ro­ge­lio López Marín (Gory). In this se­ries of pho­to­graphs, as a com­mon mo­tive present in all the pieces, there is a swim­ming pool ladder that takes us down into a strained land­scape, of dark wa­ters, oceanic, rough and su­per­posed with dif­fer­ent scenes in each case: a car, a for­est, a sta­tion, etc. The ladder cer­tainly of­fers us ac­cess into an un­known uni­verse, maybe longed for, but al­ways me­di­ated by that am­biva­lent space, the sea. It looks as though for a great part of Cuban art, the Hori­zon and the sea are a sym­bolic unit. Whereas in Gory’s se­ries we look from out­side, just be­fore go­ing down the ladder, in the se­ries Aguas Baldías (Wild wa­ters, 1992-1994) by Manuel Piña—in the ex­hibit two of his pho­to­graphs are dis­played out­side the ex­hi­bi­tion in a di­a­logue with other works ex­hib­ited in the Mu­seum—3 we are at the cli­max, at a turn­ing point, the mo­ment in which we de­cide to set off for the aquatic medium, set off on a jour­ney start the pur­suit of our hori­zons.

San­dra Ramos’ suit­case also tells us about the voy­age in the se­ries Mi­gra­ciones II (Mi­gra­tions II, l994). The ob­ject it­self is the most di­rect al­lu­sion to a tran­sit marked by the at­tain­ment of a hori­zon hav­ing spe­cific ex­pec­ta­tions and of course the ex­o­dus from the is­land. The suit­case will carry, ac­cord­ing to what we see, a Cuban girl’s imag­i­nary in which the sil­hou­ette of the is­land, the sky and the fam­ily are fun­da­men­tal, as well as the po­lit­i­cal creed al­ready set up since an early age in which fig­ures like José Martí, Camilo Cien­fue­gos and Che Gue­vara are in the fir­ma­ment like Catholic deities. The fact of trav­el­ing, of mov­ing to an­other space, gen­er­ates an in­ter­est­ing set­ting to link the imag­i­nary and to con­front ex­pec­ta­tions with re­al­i­ties. The mo­ment of the ar­rival to that yearned or imag­ined hori­zon re­sume these cir­cum­stances. This is the rea­son why I would like to end my com­ments on

In­ter­nal Land­scapes with the work Es­tu­por del Cuban­ito en Ter­ri­to­rio Ajeno (Lit­tle Cuban speech­less in alien ter­ri­tory, 2000) by José Be­dia. This piece, ex­pres­sive and touch­ing as all this artist’s work, might be the proper colophon for an ex­hi­bi­tion that evokes the many and di­verse frus­tra­tions, long­ings, dreams and night­mares of these artists that are but a few among those re­flected in the col­lec­tive and in­di­vid­ual hori­zons of the rest of Cubans. ƒ

JUAN CAR­LOS ALOM − Los bañis­tas o Naci­dos para ser li­bres (Bathers, or Born to Be Free), 2012 / Thir­teen inkjet prints on pho­to­graphic pa­per DIANGO HERNÁNDEZ − El acuario de Ernesto (Ernesto's Aquar­ium), 2016 / Oil on can­vas and alu­minum frame on six pan­els

Col­lec­tion Pérez Art Mu­seum Mi­ami, gifts of Jorge M. Pérez / Cour­tesy the artist and Pérez Art Mu­seum Mi­ami

MANUEL PIÑA − Un­ti­tled (4/10), from the se­ries Aguas baldías (Empty Wa­ters), 1992-1994 / Dig­i­tal chro­mogenic print / Col­lec­tion Pérez Art Mu­seum Mi­ami, gift of Jorge M. Pérez YOAN CAPOTE − Is­land (see-es­cape), 2010 (De­tail) / Oil, nails, and fish­hooks on jute, mounted on ply­wood / Col­lec­tion Pérez Art Mu­seum Mi­ami, mu­seum pur­chase with funds

pro­vided by Jorge M. Pérez

Cour­tesy the artists and Pérez Art Mu­seum Mi­ami

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cuba

© PressReader. All rights reserved.