Page 1

issue no. 01

N EW EPOCA.COM

198 3 4 6

94 56 3 4

2

01 / 04

16

S P R I N G E D I T IO N 2 0 1 6 — E D I CIO N P R I M AV E R A 2 0 1 6

MEET OUR NEIGHBOR CUBA AGAIN, FOR THE FIRST TIME.


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


03

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


05

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


“SHE IS CUBA. IF YOU WANT TO LOVE HER, YOU HAVE TO BE WITH HER, BUT YOU CAN'T BE WITH HER IN HER CURRENT STATE. IT'S THE POINT OF VIEW OF ALL EXILES — YOU HAVE TO LEAVE THE THING YOU CHERISH MOST.”

N EW EPOCA.COM

07

— ANDY GARCIA


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


09

N EW EPOCA.COM


ssue no. 01

PRING EDITION

TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


CONTENTS

010

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR CONTRIBUTORS

018

LA HISTORIA OF CUBA

036

THE FEATURED STORES

042

THE ART OF DEALING WITH CUBA.

048

HOW ARTISTS ARE CREATING

076

THE CURRENT EVENTS

082

CUBA'S ART SCENE AWAITS A TRAVEL BOOM

090

A MODEL FOR CUBA’

2015—CUBA'S RENAISSANCE YEAR

ENTREPRENEURIAL FUTURE 058

066

094

TANIA BRUGUERA: IN HAVANA,

SIX LESSONS IN INNOVATION

A JOURNEY INTO THE FORBIDDEN

FROM CUBAN ENTREPRENEURS

WITH A PROVOCATIVE ARTIST.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF CUBAN ART

104

011

012

CUBA REFUSES TO RETURN SEIZED ART DESPITE THAW IN RELATIONS WITH US.

SHOWCASED ARTISTS

118

X ALFONSO

124

WHATS IN YOUR TOOLBOX?

HEY YOU THERE Interested in working with New Época on a future collaboration? Or are you interested in getting yourself or another Cuban artists featured in our magazine and website? Take a peak on page 154, or our website newepoca.com, to find out how to get in contact with us,

LOURDES SANCHEZ 132

ABILIO ESTEVEZ.

138

LOS CARPINTEROS

150

THE CREDITS

154

COLLABORATE WITH US

we are excited to hear from you.

N EW EPOCA.COM

011

INNOVATION WANTED.

112


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


WHO IS NEW ÉPOCA? Initially when I began researching about the economic state of Cuba and how can a design solution help a country, the United States and Cuba has not yet established an interest in renewing a relationship between the two countries. I began researching the economic stated of Cuba and found an insight that was quite interesting; in most situations where a country suffers from harsh economic conditions, such a lack of technology, information, product and no source of income the creative community and economy should have wither away, yet Cuba’ creative economy and community thrives. So my thesis transformed in an unexpected way. My new thesis direction had more to do with assisting the changing Cuban economy as it transitions into a free market while getting Americans to learn from this unique country and its culture.

OUR SOLUTION I knew there was a design solution for this need. This is why New Época's design solution is based off the three freedoms I found that Cubans lack; freedom of income with a collaborative product line, freedom of speech with a magazine, and finally freedom of information with a website. The overall goal with New Época is to share and expose the Cuban culture, art, and mind-set to Americans and Cubans- Americans while creating a resource of income and speech for Cubans.

Andrea Novo EDITOR IN CHIEF

N EW EPOCA.COM

01 3

One of the main reason why Cuba’s creative community is flourishing against all odds is called technological disobedience (a big word which really just means the breaking the rules in which a product’s technical use was intended for). Cuba lacked the resources that they need, so now Cubans make due with what they have, and have been in a type of survival mode. Men and women used broken parts of found objects to create something new. This along with the stress caused by the embargo and strict government, created a new perception for the Cuban people; or a new era of innovation. The Cuban people with no jobs, no money, and no business, had to get creative, and had to think outside the box. This is called the resolver mind-set; improving by repurposing the scarce resources around you, which became a way of Cuban life.

This resolver mind-set spilled over to their art culture, and over time has become one of Cuba’s strongest assets. Many Cuban artists make earn more than most engineers, teachers, and doctors, and often find work and pay from outside the government salaries. By supporting Cuban arts and culture as the regulations of the embargo slowly change Americans are supporting the Cuban people as a whole and give them hope ( in better income, and voice ) moving forward to the new era of change between the two countries that are ninety miles away from each other.


ISSU E 001 / SPRING QUA RT E R ’S CO N T R I BU T E R S A SPECIAL THANKS

IN FEATURED STORIES

LISA REYNOLDS WOLFE

WHARTON, U. PENNSYLVANIA

@LISA_R_WOLF

@UPENN_WHARTON

RICARDO HERRORO

JERRY HAGSTERN

@RICARDOH

@JERRYHAGS

IN CURRENT EVENTS

VICTORIA BURNETT

PATRICK GILLESPIE

@VBURNETT

@PGILLESPIE

ROBERT SIEGEL

DAVID D'AREY

@ROBSIEGEL

@DAVIDDAREY

IN CURRENT EVENTS

GINNY BRANCH STELLING

YOANI SANCHEZ @YOANISANCHEZ

@ GINNY_BSTELLING

QUARTERLY AMERICA

ROSA LOWINGER

@QAMERICA

@R_LOWINGER

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


01 5

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

—BRIN-JONATHAN BUTLER

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


017

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


019

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

A BRIEF RUN DOWN ON WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON DOWN THERE.

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


021

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

“Cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders turn cruel.” VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


1864 –1954 1868–1878

WARS OF INDEPENDENCE

Ten Years War of independence ends in a truce with Spain promising reforms and greater autonomy - promises that were mostly never met.

1895–98

1898

Jose Marti leads a second war of independence; US declares war on Spain.

US defeats Spain, which gives up all claims to Cuba and cedes it to the US.

SPANISH–CUBAN– AMERICAN WAR

1902 US TUTELAGE

Cuba becomes independent with Tomas Estrada Palma as president; Platt Amendment keeps the island under US protection and gives the US the right to intervene.

1909

1924

1925

Estrada resigns and the United States occupies Cuba following a rebellion led by Jose Miguel Gomez.

Jose Miguel Gomez becomes president following elections supervised by the US, but is soon tarred by corruption.

Gerado Machado institutes vigorous measures, on mining, agriculture and public works, but established a brutal dictatorship.

Socialist Party founded, forming the basis of the Communist Party.

1933

1934

1944

1952- 1953

Machado overthrown in a coup led by Sergeant Fulgencio Batista.

The US abandons its right to intervene in Cuba’s internal affairs, revises Cuba’s sugar quota and changes tariffs to favour Cuba.

Batista retires and is succeeded by the civilian Ramon Gray San Martin.

Batista seizes power again and presides over an oppressive and corrupt regime. Fidel Castro leads an unsuccessful revolt against the Batista regime

N EW EPOCA.COM

02 3

1906–09


SPECIAL READ

1956

1958

1959

Castro lands in eastern Cuba from Mexico and takes to the Sierra Maestra mountains where, aided by Ernesto “Che” Guevara, he wages a guerrilla war.

The US withdraws military aid to Batista.

TRIUMPH OF REVOLUTION

Castro leads army, forcing Batista to flee. Castro becomes prime minister, Raul, becomes his deputy and Guevara third in command.

The US sponsors an abortive invasion by Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs; Castro proclaims Cuba a communist state and begins to ally it with the USSR.

1962

1965

1976

1980

Cuban missile crisis ignites when Castro allows the USSR to deploy nuclear missiles on the island. The crisis was resolved when the USSR agreed to remove the missiles in return for the withdrawal of US nuclear missiles from Turkey.

Cuba’s political party renamed the Cuban Communist Party. (Partido Comunista)

INTERVENTIONS

1991

1993

SURVIVING WITHOUT

The US tightens its embargo on Cuba, which introduces some market reforms in order to stem the deterioration of its economy. These include the legalization of the US dollar, the transforma-

1956 THE USSR

Soviet military advisers leave Cuba following the collapse of the USSR.

IN AFRICA

Cuban Communist Party approves a new socialist constitution; Castro elected president.

1961

Around 125,000 Cubans, many of them released convicts, flee to the US.

1996 tion of many state farms into semi-autonomous cooperatives, and the legalization of limited individual private enterprise.

US trade embargo made permanent in response to Cuba’s shooting down of two US aircraft operated by Miam– based Cuban exiles.


025

N EW EPOCA.COM


SPECIAL READ

1998 –2003 1998

POPE JOHN PAUL II VISITS CUBA.

The US eases restrictions on the sending of money to relatives by Cuban Americans.

1999

2000

2001

NOV - Cuban child Elian Gonzalez is picked up off the Florida coast after the boat in which his mother, stepfather and others had tried to escape to the US capsized. A huge campaign by Miami– based Cuban exiles begins with the aim of preventing Elian from rejoining his father in Cuba and of making him stay with relatives in Miami.

Elian allowed to rejoin his father in Cuba after prolonged court battles. OCT - US House of Representatives approves the sale of food and medicines to Cuba.

OCT - Cuba criticizes Russia’s decision to shut down the Lourdes centre on the island, saying President Putin took the decision as “a special gift” to US President George W Bush ahead of a meeting between the two. NOV - US exports food to Cuba for the first time in more than 40 years to help it cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Michelle.

JUN -

POSTER BOY FOR THE REVOLUTION DEC - Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Cuba and signs accords aimed at boosting bilateral ties.

2002 JAN - Prisoners

taken during US-led action in Afghanistan are flown into Guantanamo Bay for interrogation as Al Qaeda suspects. A SPOTLIGHT ON GUANTANAMO

Russia’s last military base in Cuba, at Lourdes, closes down. APR - Diplomatic crisis after UN Human Rights Commission again criticizes Cuba’s rights record. The resolution is sponsored by Uruguay

2003 and supported by many of Cuba’s former allies including Mexico. Uruguay breaks off ties with Cuba after Castro says it is a US lackey. MAY - US Under Secretary of State John Bolton accuses Cuba of trying to develop biological weapons, adding the country to Washington’s list of “axis of evil” countries. Former US president Jimmy Carter makes a goodwill visit which includes a tour of scientific centres, in response to US

allegations about biological weapons. Carter is the first former or serving US president to visit Cuba since the 1959 revolution. JUN - National Assembly amends the constitution to make socialist system of government permanent and untouchable. Castro called for the vote following criticisms from US President G.W Bush.

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION

DISSIDENTS JAILED MAR / APR - “Black Spring’’ crackdown on dissidents draws international condemnation. Seventyfive people are jailed for terms of up to 28 years; three men who hijacked a ferry to try reach the US are executed. JUN - EU halts high-level official visits to Cuba in protest at the country’s recent human rights record.


027

ELIAN GONZALEZ

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

2004

2005

2006

2007

APR - UN Human Rights Commission censures Cuba over its rights record. Cuban foreign minister describes resolution - which passed by single vote as “ridiculous”. MAY - US sanctions restrict US-Cuba family visits and cash remittances from expatriates. OCT - President Castro announces ban on transactions in US dollars, and imposes 10% tax on dollar-peso conversions.

JAN - Havana says it is resuming diplomatic contacts with the EU, frozen in 2003 following a crackdown on dissidents. MAY - Around 200 dissidents hold a public meeting, said by organisers to be the first such gathering since the 1959 revolution. JUL - Hurricane Dennis causes widespread destruction and leaves 16 people dead.

FEB - Propaganda war in Havana as Castro unveils a monument which blocks the view of illuminated messages, some of them about human rights, displayed on the US building.

APR -

CASTRO HOSPITALIZED

President Fidel Castro undergoes surgery and temporarily hands over control of the government to his brother, Raul. DEC - Castro’s failure to appear at a parade to mark the 50th anniversary of his return to Cuba from exile prompts speculation. JULY -

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION

A lawyer and a journalist are given lengthy jail terms after secret trials, which rights activists see as a sign of a crackdown on opposition activity. MAY - Castro fails to appear at Havana’s annual May Day parade. Days later he says he has had several operations. Anger as the US drops charges against veteran anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles, who is a former CIA operative and Cuba’s “Public


2008 Raul Castro takes over as president, days after Fidel announces his retirement.

FEB -

FIDEL STEPS DOWN

The bans on private ownership of mobile phones and computers lifted.

MAY -

ANGER AS US FREES MILITANT

Announcement to abandon salary equality. The move is seen as a radical departure from the orthodox Marxist economic principles observed since the 1959 revolution.

EU lifts diplomatic

sanctions imposed on Cuba in 2003 over crackdown on dissidents. JUL - In an effort to boost Cuba’s lagging food production and reduce dependence on food imports, the government relaxes restrictions on the land available to private farmers. OCT - State oil company says estimated twenty billion barrels in offshore fields, being double previous estimates. NOV - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits. Two countries conclude new trade and

economic accords in sign of strengthening relations. Raul Castro pays reciprocal visit to Russia in Jan 2009. Chinese President Hu Jintao visits to sign trade and investment accords, including agreements to continue buying Cuban nickel and sugar. DEC - Russian warships visit for first time since the Cold War. Government says 2008 most difficult year for economy since collapse of Soviet Union. Growth nearly halved to 4.3%

N EW EPOCA.COM

02 9

Enemy No. 1� accused of downing a Cuban airliner. JUL - First time since 1959 that Revolution Day is celebrated without Castro . DEC - Castro says in a letter read on Cuban TV that he does not intend to cling to power indefinitely.


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


2009 MAR - Two leading

restrictions on the Cuban-Americans visiting Havana and sending back money. CRISIS MEASURES APR - US President Barack Obama says he wants a new beginning with Cuba. MAY - Government unveils austerity programme to try to cut energy use and offset impact of global financial crisis.

N EW EPOCA.COM

JUN - Organisation of American States (OAS) votes to lift ban on Cuban membership imposed in 1962. Cuba welcomes decision, but says it has no plans to rejoin.

031

figures, Cabinet Secretary Carlos Lage and Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, resign after admitting “errors�. Government reshuffle since resignation of Fidel Castro. The US Congress then votes to lift Bush Administration


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


03 3

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

[ 02 ] [ 01 ] [ 02 ]

ORL AN DO ZAPATA TAMAYO POPE BEN EDICT

[ 01 ]

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


2010 Political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo dies after 85 days on hunger strike. MAY - Wives and mothers of political prisoners are allowed to hold demonstration after archbishop of Havana, Jaime Ortega, intervenes. FEB -

2011 President Castro agrees to free 52 dissidents under a deal brokered by the Church and Spain. Several go into exile. SEP - Plans for massive government job cuts to revive the economy. Analysts see proposals as biggest private sector shift since the 1959 revolution JUL -

2012 MAR - Pope Benedict

REFORMS GATHER PACE APR - Communist Party Congress says it will look into possibility of

allowing Cuban citizens to travel abroad. AUG - National

Assembly approves economic reforms aimed at encouraging private enterprise and reducing state bureaucracy. NOV - Cuba passes law allowing individuals to buy and sell private property for first time in 50 years.

2013

2014

FEB - The National

JAN - First

Assembly re-elects Raul Castro as president. He says he will stand down at the end of his second term in 2018, by which time he will be 86. RAUL’S SECOND TERM JUL - Five prominent

veteran politicians, including Fidel Castro ally and former parliament leader Ricardo Alarcon, are removed from the Communist Party’s Central Committee in what President Raul Castro calls a routine change of personnel.

phase of a deepwater sea port is inaugurated by Brazil and Cuba at Mariel, a rare large foreign investment project on the island. MAR - Cuba agrees to a European Union invitation to begin talks to restore relations and boost economic ties, on condition of progress on human rights. T JUL - Russian President Vladimir Putin visits during a tour of Latin America, says Moscow will cancel billions of dollars of Cuban debt from Soviet times. Chinese President Xi Jinping visits, signs bilateral accords.

N EW EPOCA.COM

DEC - The

authorities release 2,500 prisoners, including some convicted of political crimes, as part of an amnesty ahead of a papal visit.

SEP / OCT - Cuba sends hundreds of frontline medical staff to West African countries hit by the Ebola epidemic.

RAPPROCHEMENT WITH USA DEC - In a surprise devel-

opment, US President Barack Obama and Cuba’s President Raul Castro announce moves to normalize diplomatic relations between the two countries, severed for more than 50 years.

035

visits, criticising the US trade embargo on Cuba and calling for greater rights on the island. [ 02] APR - Cuba marks Good Friday with a public holiday for the first time since recognition of religious holidays stopped in 1959. JUN - Cuba re-imposes customs duty on all food imports in effort to curb selling of food aid sent by Cubans abroad on the commercial market. Import duties had been liberalized in 2008 after series of hurricanes caused severe shortages. OCT - The government abolishes the

requirement for citizens to buy exit permits when seeking to travel abroad. Highly-qualified professionals such as doctors. engineers and scientists will still require permission to travel, in order to prevent a brain drain. NOV - President Raul Castro says the eastern province of Santiago was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, with 11 people dead and more than 188,000 homes damaged. A United Nations report says Sandy destroyed almost 100,000 hectares of crops.

President Barack Obama relaxes restrictions on travel to Cuba. MAR - Last two political prisoners detained during 2003 crackdown are released. JAN - US


TH E SECTION

2015 JAN - Washington eases

bypass Congress and

some travel and trade

lift the US economic

restrictions on Cuba.

embargo on Cuba.

Two days of historic

FEB - Cuban and US

talks between the US

diplomats say they

and Cuba take place

have made progress in

in Havana, with both

talks in Washington to

sides agreeing to meet

restore full relations.

again. The discussions

MAY - Cuba establishes

focus on restoring

banking ties with US,

diplomatic relations but

which drops country

no date is set for the

from list of states that

reopening of embassies

sponsor terrorism.

in both countries.

JUL - Cuba and US agree

President Raul Castro

to reopen embassies.

calls on President Obama to use his executive powers to

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


2016 PRESIDENT OBAMA @POTUS • MARCH 20TH, 2016

037

35K

N EW EPOCA.COM

62K


TH E FEATURED STORI ES

LAS TEMAS DE PORTADA VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


NEW ÉPOCA’S SPRING MAGAZINE FEATURES ARTICLES FOCUSING ON THE ECONOMICS OF CUBA’S AMAZING ART COMMUNITY.

044

THE ART OF DEALING WITH CUBA .

050

H O W A R T I S T S A R E C R E AT I N G A M O D E L F O R C U B A’ S E N T R E P R E N E U R I A L F U T U R E

060

6 L E S S O N S I N I N N O VAT I O N F R O M CUBAN ENTREPRENEURS

068

A B R I E F H I S T O RY O F C U B A N A R T

03 9

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E FEATURED STORI ES

LAS TEMAS DE PORTADA VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


NEW ÉPOCA’S SPRING MAGAZINE FEATURES ARTICLES FOCUSING ON THE ECONOMICS OF CUBA’S AMAZING ART COMMUNITY.

042

THE ART OF DEALING WITH CUBA .

048

H O W A R T I S T S A R E C R E AT I N G A M O D E L F O R C U B A’ S E N T R E P R E N E U R I A L F U T U R E

058

6 L E S S O N S I N I N N O VAT I O N F R O M CUBAN ENTREPRENEURS

066

A B R I E F H I S T O RY O F C U B A N A R T

0 41

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


043

N EW EPOCA.COM


APRIL 14, 2015

BY JERRY HAGSTROM


CUBA'S ABILITY TO DEVELOP A REAL ART MARKET WILL BE A SIGNAL OF HOW THE COUNTRY WILL HANDLE IMPROVED RELATIONS WITH THE U.S.

M

IAMI—As the United States and Cuba move toward full diplomatic relations, will Cuban art become the next thing in the art world?

Or in the future will Americans get ripped off as they travel to Cuba and buy paintings, prints, and sculpture that haven’t been properly curated or priced because all art in Cuba must be sold through the government galleries? The answer to that question may seem minor compared to such issues as human rights or whether Cuba will allow U.S. companies to modernize its telecommunications system, but it would be a visible signal of the nature of future U.S.-Cuban relations.

Whether Cuba develops a real art market depends on whether the Cuban government agrees to allow privately owned galleries, so that the kind of evaluation and pricing that takes place in the rest of the world also can take place in Cuba, according to Ramón Cernuda, a dealer of Cuban art in Florida. “In the United States, access to information implies a free market,” Cernuda said in a recent interview. North Korea and Cuba are the only countriesin the world that still have only government-owned art galleries, he added.

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E FEATURED STORI ES

So far, even though President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro said at their meeting in Panama that they have made progress, the Cubans “haven’t changed a comma” in their business regulations to allow private galleries, Cernuda said. Ramón Cernuda has a long and storied history in Cuban art. His gallery—Cernuda Arte, in Coral Gables, FL.—and his Cuban booth at fairs such as Art Wynwood here in February, are possible only because he won a lawsuit against the U.S. government in 1989, when the U.S. Customs Service confiscated post-revolution Cuban art works. The government said he and other Americans had violated the Trading With the Enemy Act. U.S. courts ruled in 1989 and 1990 that the George H.W. Bush administration’s ban on the importation of art from Cuba had violated a 1988 amendment to the Trading With the Enemy Act and the First Amendment guarantee of a free flow of information. Those rulings forced the Treasury Department to license art dealers including Cernuda to bring Cuban art into the United States, although the works have had to travel through third countries to get here. The rulings also made ar t the only thing that American travelers to Cuba have been able to bring home continuously without fear of confiscation. Even when the U.S. government banned the import of Cuban rum and cigars, U.S. travelers could still bring home art. So far, the Cuban art market has been limited to avant-garde collectors and the relatively small number of U.S. business travelers such as farmers, who have been able to travel to Cuba to promote their products since Congress allowed agricultural sales to Cuba in 2000. There is no question that Cuban art is one of the great bargains in the art world today. Farmers, journalists, and other travelers to Cuba have bought paintings for as little as $150 and prints for under

$100. Cernuda dismisses those works as “tourist art,” but said it is possible to buy “fine” works by “emerging or mid-career” Cuban artists priced between $5,000 and $15,000. As the United States has eased travel restrictions, celebrities have begun traveling to Cuba to buy paintings at prices reported to be $45,000 and higher. Cuba’s 12th Havana Biennial opens May 22 and is expected to attract a record number of attendees, including prominent dealers. The American interest in contemporary Cuban art is not surprising. American critics have had a high regard for Cuban art since 1944 when the Museum of Modern Art in New York held a breakthrough

“In the United States, access to information implies a free market,” exhibition of Cuban painters. The museum also bought The Jungle, a painting by Wifredo Lam of slaves in the Colonial-era sugar fields that now is considered a masterpiece. After the United States established the embargo on trade with Cuba and travel to the island in 1961, contact between the U.S. and Cuban art communities stopped, but Cuban artists continued to work and gain prominence in Europe. In the late 1980s, after the Soviet Union ended its support of Cuba and the country was desperate for foreign currency, the Cuban government began to encourage its artists to make sales. The result, Cernuda said, is “Cuba has more artists per square foot than anywhere else in the world.”

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


Contemporary Cuban art ranges from traditional paintings of the countryside to starkly modern works that express discontent with Communist society. Foreign critics have praised artists such as Cernuda client Miguel Florido, who makes “wrinkled” paintings of the U.S. flag. But figuring out which Cuban art works are likely to have lasting value is difficult without independent critics and sales records.

“Cuba has more artists per square foot than anywhere else in the world.”

Cuban officials may be reluctant to change business regulations until Congress lifts the embargo, but maybe they will realize that even at $50,000, a fine Cuban painting is priced low compared with many contemporary works by artists from other countries. It would seem to be in Cuba’s interest to establish a free market that would allow its artists to earn what their works are worth and pay taxes on the proceeds.

N EW EPOCA.COM

0 47

Travelers who buy art in Cuba’s government galleries “end up buying art that is not investment-grade,” Cernuda said. He encourages serious collectors to spend their time in Cuba studying art in the museums—and then make their purchases through his gallery or others in the U.S. and Europe where the art has been evaluated.


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


0 49

N EW EPOCA.COM


BY WHARTON, University of Pennsylvania

IN THE EARLY 1990S, FOLLOWING THE 1989 COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET BLOC, CUBA FACED ITS GREATEST CRISIS SINCE THE 1959 REVOLUTION. THE POPULACE WAS FORCED TO BRAVE SEVERE SHORTAGES OF BASIC FOOD AND CONSUMER GOODS AND EVEN MORE INTENSE RATIONING THAN WAS PREVIOUSLY THE NORM.

T

he conventional socialist economic model that fostered trade between the USSR and friendly states according to their natural competitive advantages was shaken to its core. With its sugar no longer paying the bills, Cuba had to chart a new course for greater economic independence and food security. The agricultural sector was the first to be overhauled by permitting independent cooperatives to quickly increase the production of staples and produce. Joint ventures with international food manufacturers and hospitality groups were encouraged and deals brokered, and the country’s singular cultural offering was packaged for consumption by tourists to the island and for export. Toward the end of the four-year span known as the Special Period, the state’s complete control over the

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION

economy gave way to compromise with the joint venture laws of 1994. These laws allowed partnerships with international hotel groups and mining companies prepared to invest in capital-intensive projects, and selfemployment in limited categories of micro-enterprise. The Cuban government was no longer insistent that it be the sole employer. Small food establishments were born in the living rooms and verandas of enterprising gastronomists, and musicians, artists and filmmakers began to ply their trade in new circles. In 1992, at the height of the Special Period, an artist collective was born among three classmates from one of Havana’s most prestigious ar t schools, the Instituto Superior de Arte. The team adopted the name Los Carpinteros (The Carpenters) inspired by the tradition of craftsman


to meld art, function and design. Los Carpinteros honed their craft and matured in the years following art school and before long, attracted the attention of international collectors, among them Peter and Irene Ludwig.

The autonomous, non-governmental non-profit was the first of its kind in Cuba since the beginning of the revolution and was established with the mission of protecting, preserving and promoting Cuban art within Cuba and abroad. Los Carpinteros benefitted

The Ludwig Foundation provided a framework for cultural exchange in the arts, but it was an insider, Abel Prieto — Cuba’s minister of culture from 1997 until 2001 — who made the dream of engagement a reality for artists like Los Carpinteros, according to Ted Henken, a professor at Baruch College in New York and author of Entrepreneurial Cuba: The Changing Policy Landscape. A progressive communist leader, Prieto acted as a liaison between artists, musicians and the government. He lobbied for people in the cultural world to travel, and even reside abroad, notes Henken. Prieto ultimately convinced hardliners in the government that the arts had to be

enshrined and artists required special treatment, above all freedom of movement. As a result, Cuban artists were permitted to travel internationally for exhibitions and concerts, and were allowed to return to Cuba with the proceeds of these forays abroad with very little restriction. American ar t dealers have been exempted from travel restrictions to Cuba since the U.S. government granted a consent decree upholding the right for art exchange between the two countries under the First Amendment in 1990. The case was brought by attorney Alex Rosenberg, who together with his wife Carole in 2000 established the American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba, , to facilitate cultural exchanges through workshops, seminars and artinspired trips to Cuba that continue.

051

One of the world’s most renown collectors, Peter Ludwig took a liking to contemporary Cuban art in the early 1990s, and though he was unable to establish a museum in Havana as he had in several cities of Europe and Asia owing to the constraints of the Special Period, he instead set up the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba.

from the exposure provided by the foundation, and held their first exhibit outside Cuba at the Ludwig Forum in Aachen, Germany.


TH E FEATURED STORI ES

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


“We played a role in helping the Cuban ar tists,” a statement from Carole Rosenberg. “They created the economy themselves with the quality of their work.” REDEFINING THE ‘SOCIAL PACT’ Los Carpinteros ar tist Dagober to Rodriguez, who now splits his time between Havana and Madrid along with co-founder Marco Castillo, is unreserved in his praise for the NGO. “They deserve a lot of credit; it’s an absolute merit to have cooperated so well with the government and thrived through some of Cuba’s toughest years,”he says. Strong institutions like the American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba are critical to a measured opening of the sector, Castillo adds, and the model should be replicated across other key sectors of the Cuban economy.

Mexican entrepreneur and art collector Boris Hirmas notes that it was very clever of the Cuban authorities to allow artists to explore and develop, rather than restrict them. “Having a Cuban like Carpinteros co-founder turned solo-artist Alexandre Arrachea fill Park Avenue with sculptures as he did in 2013 as part of his ‘No Limits’ installation, and having his peers — the rest of the Carpinteros collective — be represented by an amazing top notch gallery like Sean Kelly and be collected by top tier collectors in the world — it hasn’t been a sudden success or serendipity. It’s really hard work, which is the nature and backbone of entrepreneurship.” According to Hirmas, the new generation of entrepreneurs emerging in Cuba owes a debt of gratitude to Cuban artists who pioneered econ o mic self- dete r minatio n in th e country. “I think it’s the same lesson that we see in Latin America and really the world at large — that true entrepreneurship, even with restricted resources, can do wonders, because it is about human spirit. It is about will, and to me it’s about inspiration… They have shown … that not only can

you make a decent living, be who you want to be and be true to your nature, but that you also can be successful and respected by the rest of the world — that you can interact with the rest of the world and you can certainly be part of a global environment.” Like the freedoms granted Cuban artists, economic reforms implemented by Raul Castro since taking over for his elder brother in 2006 all originated in the introspective soul searching of the Special Period, observers say. Private enterprise has been assigned an increasingly important role, but it was introduced as a regrettable albeit essential compromise, to prop up the economy and the overall ideals of the Cuban revolution. To day, in cre m e n t a l refo r m s a re ushered in under a new paradigm, referred to in official circles as an “update to the Cuban socialist model,” aimed firstly at putting a stop to the hemorrhaging of unprofitable state enterprises, and secondly at stimulating a new wave of economic growth. Essentially, there are two models being pursued, according to Henken: The militar y model, where state companies control the means of production outright or in joint ventures with foreign investors; and the

“The reason that the state has this two-pronged strategy is largely because it wants to retain its monopoly on import, export and the professions, i.e., on the parts of the economy that matter.” –TED HENKEN

N EW EPOCA.COM

05 3

Cuba’s ar tists, even those widely considered to be at the vanguard of their discipline, like Los Carpinteros, haven’t amassed incredible wealth. They have lived relatively comfortable lives compared to their compatriots in other sectors back home, however, and have helped whet the appetite of an international market hungry for Cuban art. The model of engagement

worked, and they remain proponents of the Cuban ideal, albeit with a strong dose of pragmatism.


entrepreneurial model, where the government aims to relieve itself of the burden of many small, inefficient enterprises by allowing them to become independent.

A DOOR OPENS

“The reason that the state has this t wo-pronge d s trateg y is largely b e c a u s e i t w a n t s to re t a i n i t s monopoly on import, export and the professions, i.e., on the parts of the economy that matter, and ‘unload’ many ‘redundant’ state workers, leaving them, or allowing them the freedom, to work‘on their own’ in occupations that are largely unproductive and survival oriented, even medieval,”says Henken.

Attorney Jorge Jordan Rodriguez re cently to ok advant a ge of n ew

In carving out specific segments for private actors, however, the door has opened for entrepreneurs to create new business entities.

reforms to establish his own consulting firm in Havana, Ambar Servicios Profesionales Cooperativa. It took nearly two years to establish Ambar, one of more than 300 non-agricultural professional services entities that have been authorized to form independent cooperatives. The firm is now working with Cuban and overseas corporations, especially on trade

“The reason that the state has this twopronged strategy is largely because it wants to retain its monopoly on import, export and the professions, i.e., on the parts of the economy that matter…” The strategy “can be seen both as the granting of more economic freedom and as a redefinition of the ‘social pact’ between workers and the state,”Henken. “Some even see it as an abandonment of some of the key labor commitments of the revolution.”

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION

deals for food imports from Miami and to establish foreign companies in the special economic zone connected to the port of Mariel. It’s a start, he says, that will inevitably lead to a demand among international investors for assets on the ground.


Jordan is among those Cuban entrepreneurs fortunate enough to have lived abroad. He spent a year in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 2004, working with EY, before returning to Cuba to rejoin the ranks of government employed attorneys, biding his time for the right moment to invest in his own firm. Jordan isn’t alone. Many entrepreneurs with international experience are returning to Cuba to set up shop, en coura ge d by th e m os t re cent rounds of economic reforms.

“Cuba is not yet competitive in this field if you compare an audiovisual production company like ours with similar peers in the U.S., Europe or even Latin Americaut we are aiming to bring a more cutting-edge sensibility

Studio 50 publishes a monthly online magazine, Vistar, featuring the latest in Cuba’s contemporary art and music scene. The magazine is published using characteristic Cuban inventiveness to overcome the logistical constraints that would otherwise make such a venture impossible. Gell contracts with a hosting service in the Dominican Republic and features the design work it performs on behalf of its clients rather than selling advertising, which would not currently be a permitted business model, Gell notes. The first print edition of Vistar is to launch in the coming months. Former minister of culture Prieto, who now serves as an advisor to President Raul Castro, has become a champion for greater access to technology in Cuba, particularly to build capacity in information technology and as a tool to promote culture and the arts. If Prieto’s record is anything to go by, Vistar might soon host the website for its electronic magazine on home turf. Perhaps no entrepreneur b et ter reflects the changes underway in Cuba and the newfound confidence they instill than Richard Egues. A longtime resident of Paris, Egues has launched a restaurant and cabaret in a penthouse overlooking the U.S. interest

section and Havana’s famed seafront promenade. Egues took advantage of a reform to the seat limit in privately run restaurants — previously set at 12 and now increased to 50 — and invested some $150,000 to transform an apartment into a sleek restaurant, bar and cabaret, complete with terrace and swimming pool, where live musicians perform seven nights a week. The restaurant is packed to capacity virtually every night, and the families of both Fidel and Raul Castro have been frequent guests. Egues says he felt it was the right time to return to his native Cuba given the relaxation of controls on private enterprise. The business is not without its challenges, especially where procurement is concerned, but the entrepreneur is moving full speed ahead, with plans in the works to rent another unit in the same building to launch a cigar bar. HERE COMES THE TAX MAN B en e ath th e fer vor sur ro un din g greater economic freedoms that allow Cuban entrepreneurs to participate in the island’s nascent private sector, is a much less popular responsibility: taxes. While the per capita income

N EW EPOCA.COM

055

Luis Gell spent eight years studying photography and working in Europe. He specialized in still life and architectural photography and worked with some of Italy’s top architects. Upon returning to Cuba, he established Studio 50, a full service independent production studio cooperative offering professional photography, videography and design services. He works with Cuba’s three state-owned music labels, BIS Music, EGREM and Producciones Colibri, as well as with private clients from Cuba and abroad.

to the local market, and we’re confident that with time, we’ll be able to credibly state that we’re world class in this field.”


TH E FEATURED STORI ES

in U.S. dollar terms has for decades b een insuf ficient to cover basic needs unmet by the rations of foodstuffs allocated to each household at subsidized prices, the vast majority of Cubans living on the island have never known taxes. The country’s tax structure is now in the process of being overhauled, and the creation of a regime that encourages compliance may be the biggest challenge for Raul Castro in the years ahead as more and more Cubans opt to work for themselves rather than rely on the state. An important first step in overhauling the fiscal regime, according to Ambar Asesores attorney Jorge Jordan, will be to redirect the social safety net toward those who rely on it most. “In the U.S., the social security system is designed to help those who are most in need,”he notes. “In Cuba, it’s like the entire country is on food stamps; whether you earn US$30 a month or US$1,000 a month, you’re entitled to the same rations. Under a system where salaries vary widely, it’s unviable and constitutes a misappropriation of resources that will need to be addressed.”

opportunity and rights, but it has taken the position that egalitarianism creates lazy freeloaders, which would have negative consequences for efficiency and productivity throughout the economy, Henken adds. “The reforms are in that vein, to grant freedoms and allow a disciplined workforce to be rewarded.” As Cuba warily opens its doors to greater engagement with the U.S., any erosion of the social guarantees Cubans have long considered their birthright will face resistance from those who rely most on the state for their day-to-day sustenance. Cuban policymakers will need to summon all the inventiveness their people are known for to strike the right balance between provider and facilitator as the state cedes space for private enterprise to flourish.

According to Henken, the idea of egalitarianism“is dead in Cuba; even the government has said egalitarianism is wrong and [that it] shouldn’t pursue that.” The government is committed to ensuring equality of

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


“In Cuba, it’s like the entire country is on food stamps; whether you earn US $30 a month or US $1,000 to the same rations.” –JORGE JORDAN

N EW EPOCA.COM

057

a month, you’re entitled


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


059

N EW EPOCA.COM


6

TH E SECTION

PAGE 60 / 160

VISIT US AT LAVOZEXCHANGE.COM VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


A By

RICARDO HERRERO,

“NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF ALL INVENTION” GOES THE PROVERB, AND FEW COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD HAVE TESTED ITS SALIENCY QUITE LIKE CUBA.

suffocating half-century mix of communist socio-economic policies and blanket U.S. sanctions have forged a people for whom the need to “resolver”—improvising solutions by repurposing the scarce resources around you—has become more than just a way of life. It is arguably the only way most of them are able to create value in their society. To many in Cuba, the “resolver” mindset represents the defiant and indomitable spirit of the Cuban people. To others who once took pride in what their country had accomplished before or immediately after the Revolution (depending on their politics), it is a persistent and embarrassing reminder of the failures of their system. Yet, it turns out that during this time of change for the Caribbean island, this same ethos is increasingly becoming something to celebrate, and more importantly, to study. As Cuba seeks to reintegrate itself into the global economy, its harsh conditions have inadvertently given fruit to one of the greatest assets a workforce can possess in the 21 st century: a deep-rooted culture of constraint-based innovation and collective ingenuity — one that often remains at odds with the government’s rigid central planning offices.

by re-purposing the scarce resources around you— has become more than just a way of life

N EW EPOCA.COM

061

Look at today’s most exciting socio-economic currents—the shared economy, the circular economy, the maker movement, financial inclusion, co-creation—and you will find myriad examples of people and companies mastering the art of doing more with less. These frugal innovators are creating low-cost, highquality goods and services by re-imagining processes and repurposing resources to meet the needs of an emerging global middle class with growing financial constraints and depleting natural resources. In the most comprehensive business study of this practice, Jugaad Innovation, authors Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu and Dr. Simone Ahuja distill con“RESOLVER” straints-based, or “frugal” innovation into six guiding principles, for which the Cuban expeimprovising solutions rience offers a wealth of case studies:


TH E SECTION

01

03

THEY THINK AND ACT FLEXIBLY.

THEY SEEK OPPORTUNITY IN ADVERSITY. Frugal innovators identify opportunities within the harsh constraints of their markets to create value. Cuban ingenuity as we know it today was born in the 1960′s, as replacement parts for American products became increasingly scant due to the U.S. trade embargo. Eventually groups like Associación Nacional de Innovadores y Racionalizadores began to form and convene professional scientists and engineers with blue-collar mechanics and technicians to develop alternative solutions to problems created by scarcity. Many of the practices honed by ANIR became public policy during the so-called “Special Period,” when the government distributed manuals that taught Cubans how to “reduce, reuse and recycle” everyday items in order to survive the crushing shortages caused by the loss of Soviet subsidies. After five decades of overcoming extreme hardship, it is safe to describe Cuba as a country of eleven million people with a hacker mindset. Today, they count not just on their creativity to get ahead, but on a growing chain of external suppliers, mostly in Miami, who provide them with the parts, tools, and PDF manuals they need to deliver simple but effective products and services.

To innovate in a constraint-based environment, frugal entrepreneurs must quickly respond to changes in their environment with entirely new value propositions. Architects and engineers are prohibited from private sector practice in Cuba, but that has not stopped many of them from leading a quiet urban renewal in Havana, re-imagining, re-purposing and renovating old run-down properties into new spaces. They do so by operating under permitted licenses for construction, interior decoration, home sales and masonry, pushing the legal envelope to build many of the capitol city’s most exciting cultural and culinary destinations.

04

02 -

THEY KEEP IT SIMPLE. The “resolver” mindset requires that entrepreneurs focus on developing “good enough” offerings that are accessible and easy to use. While Raul Castro expanded private sector enterprise in 2011, the state’s superior education system has failed to offer ongoing MBA programs or courses in business administration. Nor does it allow private schools that could offer a business curriculum to open in the island. Enter the Cuban Catholic Church, which, recognizing a need to provide practical business training to Cuba’s new entrepreneurs, began offering part-time workshops through its country-wide network of churches and cultural centers. These workshops have taught thousands of entrepreneurs the fundamentals of how to start and manage a business and are fostering a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in Cuba.

THEY DO MORE WITH LESS. Frugal innovators compensate for a lack of resources by finding ways to leverage social networks and their intimate knowledge of their communities to create and deliver value. To get around Cuba’s debilitating lack of Internet connectivity, local entrepreneurs developed El Paquete Semanal, a complex, peer-to-peer distribution system of hard-drives that contain everything from offline versions of Wikipedia to pirate copies of Microsoft Office and the latest season of Shark Tank. This trade is currently the Island’s most lucrative private business, even though it remains illegal. Recently, crafty entrepreneurs barred from advertising on state-run television began to produce homemade video commercials for businesses such as cellphone repair shops and beauty salons to feature them in El Paquete‘s weekly programming. VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


06 3

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


05

THEY INCLUDE THE MARGIN.

06

THEY FOLLOW THEIR HEARTS. Frugal innovators take risks, trust their intuition, are passionate about what they do, and believe they pursue a high cause in the process. X Alfonso is a singer, song-writer and multi-instrumentalist who dreamed of building a “factory of ideas” in Havana that would showcase films, theatrical productions, contemporary art, runway shows, plus include a dance studio, literary hall, café, nightclub and concert stage. He also envisioned his “great gallery of all arts” as a place where local artists with “few resources and plenty of heart” would find the financial and material support needed to turn their creations into life. His Fábrica de Arte Cubano (or “F.A.C.”) opened in early 2014 and has quickly established itself as the most compulsively creative arts-space south of Brooklyn. F.A.C. has disrupted the local arts and nightlife industries, and established Alfonso as a talented visionary with an innate empathy for the needs of local artists in Cuba. “We wanted to demonstrate to people that yes we could have a change in mindset, that we could achieve things through hard work,” says Alfonso, “building spaces that fill young people with the illusion of that they can grow and do important things.”

As Cuban entrepreneurs start to enjoy greater access to the American private sector, they will undoubtedly gain an abundance of insights that will help their businesses scale and succeed. But their own ingenuity and approach can also be leveraged in more formal environments to produce innovative solutions that do more with less. U.S. entrepreneurs looking to build and sustain growth in today’s increasingly complex and volatile business lan scape would be well served to seek inspiration in the creativity, resilience and resourcefulness of the “resolver” mindset.

N EW EPOCA.COM

065

Frugal innovators search for ways to include marginal segments of society, not just out a sense of empathy, but because it makes business sense for them. Cuban entrepreneurs are rising up to the challenge of addressing the unmet needs of their most disadvantaged countrymen and women. Thanks to remittances, the informal economy, and a burgeoning private sector, approximately a third of Cubans have the means to purchase imported food and personal hygiene products. Everyone else, especially rural Cubans, continues to depend on government rations of goods for basic subsistence, over 70% of which is also imp orted due to poor agricultural policy. While many independent businesses make headlines for serving the needs of Cuba’s tourists and emerging middle class, the vast majority of private businesses cater to the less affluent. Agro-ecologist Fernando Funes Monzote serves both sectors. Through his Finca Marta, a lucrative 20-acre solar-powered urban farm in Caimito, Funes Monzote not only provides Havana’s top paladares with organic produce, he also seeks “to give Cuban farmers a way to make a living at a time when so many have given up on it and moved to urban areas.” Funes Monzote is working on developing a weekly produce basket to distribute to individual families, providing an effective and healthy alternative to the government’s basket.


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


067

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


CU BA El Grupo Bayate; Luis Rodriquez Cuba, 2015.

F E B R UA R Y 1 6 , 2 0 1 1

BY LISA REYNOLDS WOLFE

CUBAN ART, JUST LIKE CUBAN CUISINE AND DEMOGRAPHICS, OFFERS A COSMOPOLITAN COMBINATION OF THE VARIOUS CULTURES THAT HAVE BEEN BLENDED TOGETHER OVER THE PAST FIVE CENTURIES OF THE ISLAND’S LIFE.

For most of the history of Cuba, the dominant Spanish-European styles dictated the artistic professions, with classicism reigning for painting, sculpture, and architecture. Only within the last 100 years, have the traditions been overwritten with new styles becoming more prominent.

N EW EPOCA.COM

069

T

he styles incorporated by Cuban artists into their work include contemporary influences from North America and Europe, traditional tribal art from Native American and African cultures, and styles that are unique to the Caribbean.


TH E FEATURED STORI ES

UNTITLED Gouache on heavy paper Eduardo Abela, 1951.

L A S I E S TA Antonio Gattorno, 1939-1940.

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


DURING THE COLONIAL YEARS From 1500 to 1900, the Spanish empire controlled Cuba and many of the islands within the Caribbean. Spanish politics ruled the day as only the wealthy landowners of the island had the money to commission portraits, landscapes, busts, or buildings. Classicism and neoclassicism as espoused by the Spanish schools of art influenced Cuban art.

in major cities that portrayed working class persons and poor families. Paintings became tools for politicians and journalists criticizing the Machado regime.

Realism and romanticism were major hallmarks, with little subjectivity on the part of the artist’s work.

REVOLUTION & REBIRTH

INDEPENDENCE & NEW CUBAN CULTURE When Cuba won its freedom from Spain in 1898, many prominent artists began to be able to challenge the status quo of the island’s cultural scene. During the first decades of self-rule, a major break from the conventional came from the Vanguardia artists, a counter-culture revolutionary cause, illustrated Cuban life through surrealism and cubism rather than the conventional workings that Cuban art schools espoused.

When Cuba cast off Machado in 1959 and formed a socialist nation under control of Fidel Castro, the visual art scene lay at a crossroads. Some left the country to pursue better financial opportunities, especially since a large amount of art revenue had come from American tourists visiting Cuba. Others stayed in order to produce governmentsponsored art. Some artists embraced the socialist revolution. Alberto Korda, perhaps the best-known Cuban artist of all time, was a photographer who explicitly chronicled the socialist revolutions across Latin America; his picture of Che Guevara has become the iconic image of the Marxist revolution in South America. Since the socialist party of Cuba censored art, non-revolutionary content was discouraged; not until the 1980s would artists return to making works that had no pressure from the communist state influence.

N EW EPOCA.COM

07 1

The dictator Gerardo Machado and control of the island by prominent American interests caused many Cuban artists to take up the revolutionary cause through their paintbrushes and chisels, portraying the poor of their nation as a means of identity rather than re-illustrating the wealthy elite as had been the trend for centuries. Vanguardia leader Eduardo Abela had studied painting in Paris and applied his schooling in primitivism (or non-Western art style) to championing the cause. One of the many major works undertaken by Abela was murals

Painter Antonio Gattorno’s work The Siesta represents the strain of workers who had oppressive work conditions.


TH E SECTION

“I remember it as if it were today...Seeing him framed in the viewfinder, with that expression. I am still startled by the impact…it shakes me so powerfully.” ALB ERTO KO RDA

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


07 3

TH E FI LM ROLL Guerrillero Heroico Cuba, March 1960.

C H E G U E VA R A Guerrillero Heroico Cuba, March 1960. By the end of the 1960s, the image, in alliance with Guevara’s subsequent actions and execution, helped solidify the charismatic and controversial leader as a cultural icon. Korda has said that at the moment he shot the picture, he was drawn to Guevara’s facial expression, which showed “absolute implacability as well as anger and pain.” Later, Korda would say that the photo showed Che’s firm and stoic character.

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E FEATURED STORI ES

This trend can be attributed in part to works in the 1970s and 80s that changed the tone of the dialogue on artistic freedom; a new national art school was founded in 1976 and an annual exhibition titled Volume One allowed any artist to portray their work. The Spontaneous movement developed to contrast government sponsorship, creating mediums of expression that developed organically. Spontaneous artists struggled to finance their work, however, and remained largely unknown. MODERN CUBA AND MODERN ART Today, the restrictions on artistic license have been mostly lifted even as the government remains the number one source of funding and employment for Cuban artists. Recurring themes in contemporary Cuban works are the attempt to keep culture alive in an era of national homogeneity and globalism. The Grupo Bayate, an organization of Cuban “Naive” artists, has portrayed works of Cuban communities and traditions rarely seen by outsiders through collections in Cuba as well as North and South America. The Grupo Bayate is headed by Luis Rodriguez, whose son Luis also paints for the organization.

NEW ART AND NEW ARTISTS Conceptual art as a means of expressing ideas rather than subjects became a trend in Cuban painting during the 1970s and 1980s. This type of visual style requires a much greater emotional investment in a piece by the viewer, leading them to create their own conclusions rather than have the artist directly speak to the subject matter. New Artists in Cuban exhibitions like “Volume Uno” include Tomas Sanchez, whose urban graffiti paintings illustrate the subjectivity of expression. Ana Mendieta, who has created a long legacy since her early death, created the Silueta Series of land and body sculptures that combined the physical with the human for what she called an “earth-body” experience. She would use her own body as well as that of models silhouetted in dirt, grass, fire, and rock in order to blur the lines between the world and the life upon it. Lucy Lippard, who has written nearly two dozen books on contemporary art, blended together aesthetics with politics in her Lure of the Local series to better integrate the emotional and the intellectual.

Father and son illustrate everyday life in Cuba from sources that have little means of exposure; paintings of sugarcane workers and Catholic religious rituals are contrasted by the few native tribes of Cuba that retain ethnic identities and practices.

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


“I have been carrying on a dialogue between the landscape and the female body (based on my own silhouette). I believe this to be a direct result of my having been torn away from my homeland during adolescence. I am overwhelmed by the feeling of having been cast from the womb (nature). My art is the way I reestablish the bonds that tie me to the universe.� ANA MENDIETA

075

UNTITLED Silueta Series, Mexico, 1976. Ana Mendieta formed a silhouette on the beach at La Ventosa, Mexico, filling it with red tempera that was washed away by the ocean waves. She then documented the obliteration of the figure by the tide in a sequence of 35 mm slides.


UNTITLED (TREE OF LIFE) Silueta Series, Often Ana Mendieta’s works honor the divine feminine through the goddess image and the natural world. She performed while Hans Breder photograped The Goddess Silhouettes, which were earthworks, sculptures and performances symbolize the creative, fertility of the divine feminine and the power and beauty inherent in the earth.

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


A performance by Ana Mendieta, she is filmed and photographed by Hans Breder. Mendieta kills a chicken and covers herself in its blood and then in its feathers. She is transformed into a bird, which she felt was reflective of a cross cultural symbol of transformation and the shamanic flight into the spirit world.

N EW EPOCA.COM

07 7

UNTITLED Silueta Series, 1974.


TH E CURRENT EVENTS

LAS ULTIMAS NOTICIAS VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


NEW ÉPOCA’S SPRING QUARTERLY MAGAZINE INFORMS YOU ON THEIMPORTANT CURRENT EVENTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT.

084

C U B A’ S A R T S C E N E AWA I T S A T R AV E L B O O M .

092

2 0 1 5 — C U B A’ S “ R E N A I S S A N C E ” Y E A R

096

TA N I A B R U G U E R A : I N H AVA N A , A JOURNE Y THE FORBIDDEN WITH A P R O V O C AT I V E A R T I S T.

10 6

CU BA R EFUSES TO R E T U R N SEIZED A R T D E S P I T E T H AW I N R E L AT I O N S WITH U.S.

079

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E CURRENT EVENTS

LAS ULTIMAS NOTICIAS VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


NEW ÉPOCA’S SPRING QUARTERLY MAGAZINE INFORMS YOU ON THE IMPORTANT CURRENT EVENTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT.

082

C U B A’ S A R T S C E N E AWA I T S A T R AV E L B O O M .

090

2 0 1 5 — C U B A’ S “ R E N A I S S A N C E ” Y E A R

094

TA N I A B R U G U E R A : I N H AVA N A , A JOURNE Y THE FORBIDDEN WITH A P R O V O C AT I V E A R T I S T.

10 4

CU BA R EFUSES TO R E T U R N SEIZED A R T D E S P I T E T H AW I N R E L AT I O N S WITH U.S.

081

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


08 3

N EW EPOCA.COM


CUBA’S ART SCENE AWAITS A TRAVEL BOOM TH E SECTION

KADIR LÓPEZ CU BAN ARTIST

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


BY VICTORIA BURNETT

H

AVANA—Kadir López was working in his studio at his elegant home here when the doorbell rang. It was Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

the Internet and, at the same time, celebrated by a coterie of international buyers whose curiosity and determination brought them to Cuba long before talk of a thaw.

“I had no idea they were coming,” said Mr. López, whose work incorporates salvaged American signs and ads that were torn down after Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution.

Santiago Rodríguez Olazábal's “Cosa sencilla,” at Galería Habana.

A year later, recalling the event, Mr. López is still happily incredulous. “Where else in the world does Will Smith turn up on an artist’s doorstep?” he said. As collectors, art connoisseurs and institutions eagerly gear up to travel to Cuba after President Obama’s decision to loosen the economic embargo, the art scene that awaits them is sui generis: a world whose artists are cut off from supplies and

“The phenomenon is very unusual,” said Carlos Garaicoa, an artist who works with photography and sculpture and splits his time between Havana, cauba and Madrid, Spain. He added, “I doubt it happens anywhere else.” That pipeline of art lovers is about to grow, predicts Alberto Magnan, whose Chelsea gallery Magnan Metz specializes in Cuban art. Mr. Magnan, who is currently in Havana, received 25 calls from collectors on Dec. 17, af ter President Obama

N EW EPOCA.COM

085

About an hour and $45,000 later, Mr. Smith had bought “Coca Cola-Galiano,” an 8-by-4-foot CocaCola sign on which Mr. López had superimposed a 1950s photograph of what was once one of the most bustling commercial streets in Havana.

Cuban artists—from the most established to those still studying at the Higher Institute of Art—receive visits from institutions like the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Museum of Modern Art and from visitors. Many of the visitors are wealthy intellectuals who travel to Cuba on “people-to-people” trips that are perrmitted under the embargo.


TH E CURRENT EVENTS

announced that the two countries would move to restore diplomatic ties. He is now booked through March with Cuba visits. “It’s absolutely crazy,” he said. Even though Americans can visit Cuba under rules dating to 2009 that allow “purposeful travel” intended to foment contact with Cubans, many shied away, Mr. Magnan said. “It’s a hassle,” he said, about the need to get a license from the American government and pay for works without using an American credit card. Now, h owever, “ th ey’re saying, ‘I want to go before everyone else does,’” Steve Wilson, a Louisville, Ky.-based collector with M r. M a g na n in Hava na , snapped up eight pieces, mainly by young ar tists, with price tags between $1,500 and $15,000 on Sunday night at the Fábrica de Ar te Cubano, an ar t space in a factory.

“If 500 collectors turn up all of a sudden, quality will go down,” said Roberto Diago, 43, whose artworks explore the issue of slavery and race in Cuba and sell for between $2,000 and $30,000. Mr. Diago said he had “lost count” of the number of studio visits to his 1920s mansion in a sleepy Havana suburb. Still, a lot of artists are barely known, especially outside Havana, said Sandra Levinson, a founder of the Center for Cuban Studies in New York. Other than Magnan Metz, she said, only a handful of galleries in Miami and one or two on the West Coast are focused on Cuban art.

“The phenomenon is very unusual I doubt it happens anywhere else.”

Mr. Wilson, a founder of 21c Museum Hotels, which house contemporary artworks, said he hoped the diplomatic opening would allow him to organize residencies for Cuban artists in the United States and vice versa — maybe even open a 21c in Havana. “I love the fact that more people will be able to come and see this work,” he said. Since the 1990s, the Cuban government has given extra freedom to artists, who are viewed as a pillar of the country’s cultural prestige, allowing them to travel and keep a large share of their income. Some worry that artists will begin to produce like mad in anticipation of a boom.

CARLOS GARAICOA

“I think there’s still a lot to be discovered,” said Ms. Levinson, who successfully spearheaded a lawsuit against the Treasury Department in 1991 to allow Americans to bring art home from Cuba. Ms. Levinson was in Cuba when the news of the détente broke and members of her party were “buying and buying and buying,” she said. Jonathan S. Blue, a Louisville financier who caught the Cuban art bug from Mr. Wilson and has a dozen Cuban pieces whose prices ranged from $2,500 to $300,000, said he would waste no time when he returned to Cuba for the fifth time next week. “I think the time between seeing a piece I like and the decision to purchase will be decreased,” he laughed,

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


Mr. Blue, whose Cuban works include a vinyl record made of tightly coiled eight-track cassette tape by Glenda León, an artist based in Havana and Madrid, and two sculptures by Alexandre Arrechea, including “Sherry Netherland,” a, scarlet steel sculpture of the opulent Fifth Avenue apartment hotel, said that part of the charm was getting to know Cuban artists and navigating hurdles. “If you walk into a gallery in Mexico City and say, ‘I want that in my apartment on Monday,’ it’ll be there,” he said. “It doesn’t work like that in Cuba.” He added, “The challenge makes it that much more interesting.” But for Luis Miret, director of Galería Habana, the most prestigious of about a dozen state-owned galleries in Havana, those hurdles are a drag. Currently, anything shipped from Havana to the United States—only 90 miles away—has to go through a third country, such as Panama or Britain. Miret calculates that air cargo fees from Havana to Miami would be about 70 cents a kilo; he pays about $6.70 a kilo to send things via London.

“How can it be that I am allowed to publish an ad in Art Forum, but I can’t pay to participate in an art fair?” he said in his small office at the gallery. “I don’t get it.” And while Cuban artists enjoy special attention from foreign art lovers, few islanders have the income to buy art, said Adrián Fernández, who set up a studio with fellow artists Frank Mujica, 29, and Alex Hernandez Dueñas, 32, last year. All three received a free nine-year art education, he said, but, now that they are working, there is very little in the way of grants from the government or from foundations.

STEVEN WILSON CU BAN ART COLLECTOR

N EW EPOCA.COMVISIT US AT N EW EPOCA.COM

087

Mr. Miret recently lost a three-year battle to recoup $17,000 that Galería Habana wired to an account in Miami to pay for a booth at a Colombian art fair. Unfortunately the funds were confiscated by the Treasury Department.

“I love the fact that more people will be able to come and see this work.”


TH E SECTION

Indeed, they are an example of the odd contradictions facing artists: The three, whose works sell for between $500 and $8,000, are represented by a Belgian gallery Verbeeck-Van Dyck, and each has a solo show there next year. Their studio is in a spacious house in an upscale neighborhood — they got a deal from a divorcing couple; they wouldn’t say how much they paid. But they have to bring everything they need, from track lighting to graphite to canvasses, from abroad. And, as he sat in an Ikea armchair on a recent rainy morning, Mr. Fernández confessed, “We are all still living with our parents.” Several artists said that a market where they would sell a majority of their work through galleries would benefit them. Often wealthy visitors — as opposed to collectors — bought works that the artist then lost track of, they said, which would make putting together a retrospective difficult. Prices, they said, would become more transparent and more stable. Another thing that will change if the number of collectors rises, Ms. Levinson said, is that artists will become less accessible. “Most artists don’t like to sell their own work,” she said. “Cubans are more open to it than most people, but they’ll feel they have to have an agent.” She added: “They can’t spend all their time meeting foreigners who bob into their studios. They have to be able to find time to work.” If that ever happens, Mr. Garaicoa said, it will be a sign of maturity. “Sometimes there are visits where, if I am not here, they don’t want to come,” he said. “I would hope that the approach to Cuban artists becomes about the art itself.”

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


089

ADRIÁN FERNÁNDEZ FRANK MUJICA, ALEX HERNANDEZ DUEÑAS CU BAN ARTISTS

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


091

N EW EPOCA.COM


20 15 VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


D EC E M B E R 1 7, 2 0 1 5

BY PATRICK GILLESPIE

FOR MOST PEOPLE, THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN AN ORDINARY CALL — SHE WAS JUST CHECKING IN ON HIM. BUT MAXWELL'S DAUGHTER WAS IN MIAMI AND HE WAS IN CUBA — AN ISLAND WITH NO ACCESS TO U.S. CELL SERVICE JUST A YEAR AGO.

N EW EPOCA.COM

093

0

CUBA'S “RENAISSANCE” YEAR


TH E SECTION

MIAMI, UNITED STATES

HAVANA, CUBA VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


M

axwell realized right away that the call epitomized how much Cuba has changed in just this past year, in 2015.

Then he cried.

"I was in Havana and my phone worked. It was beautiful," says Maxwell, a Cuban-American lawyer at Akerman, a law firm in Miami. Maxwell's moment represents just one of many big changes in Cuba in 2015 — a year some call a "renaissance" for the island. One year ago today, President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuba would begin to normalize. The historic moment was followed by a rapid change in diplomatic relations, highlighted by an April meeting between Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro. Both countries reopened embassies this year and Pope Francis blessed the new ties with a trip to both countries in September. After more than fifty years of silence, that is progress between two' governments.

Th e Cuban an d Unite d St ate d governm ent s announced an agreement to resume commercial flights between the two. Margarita Perez de la Hoz has already noticed a surge in American business and tourists in Cuba. The Havana-based doctor now uses Airbnb and Trip Advisor to rent two rooms in her house to visitors. Perez de la Hoz isn't worried about American businesses, she sees it as an opportunity and a way to create jobs. "The country needs it,"

However, the surge of business interest in Cuba has been tempered with the reality of hurdles ahead. The United States embargo is still in place and the Cuban government is taking its time getting to know United States firms. Another hurdle is that some of the investments Cuba wants, such as oil drilling, are barred under the embargo. And some of the businesses most eager to get to Havana, such as hotel chains, are not at the top of the government's priorities, says Alana Tummino, a policy director at the Council of the Americas who has led U.S. companies on trips to Cuba. After decades of not talking and drastically different approaches to business, Corporate America and the Cuban government are still just trying to build trust, says Tummino. "There's no lack of excitement" from U.S. firms, says Tummino. But compared to hopes,"they realize that this is going to be a longer process." The Obama administration has chipped away at the embargo by amending some business restrictions. In September, new regulations paved the way for a U.S. business to establish a brick-and-mortar store on the island. But ultimately, Congress will have to lift the embargo to truly pave the way. Experts say telecommunication firms are likely to be among the first industries to arrive, possibly as soon as the first half of next year. Cuba badly wants infrastructure for internet and connectivity. Although the business pace may be slower than some would like, virtually everyone agrees it's been a landmark year for Cuba. "This is the beginning of of a new renaissance," says Cuban-American lawyer Pedro Freyre, who represents many United States companies who want to go to Cuba. "We have all seen things we never thought we would see a year ago."

N EW EPOCA.COM

095

American businesses, after five decades of being barred from Cuba, were eager to make just as much progress. At first, change came quickly. Airbnb and Netflix started operating in Cuba earlier this year. Many travel companies, including Jetblue and Norwegian Cruise Line have made plans to increase service to the island.

This pass fall, the pace of change picked up even more. Verizon and Sprint finally reached deals with the Cuban government to offer roaming service in Cuba — that's why Maxwell's phone worked in Cuba when his daughter called.


TH E CURRENT EVENTS

March 25, 2015

BY ROBERT SIEGEL

IN HAVANA, A JOURNEY INTO THE FORBIDDEN WITH A PROVOCATIVE ARTIST.

TANIA BRUGUERA I

t was still dark when Tania Bruguera hopped into a cab with us on her way to Revolution Square.

“All of a sudden it looks quite subversive what we’re doing,” she said. Her voice revealed a little nervousness, but it translated into a giddy laughter.

The last time Tania Bruguera planned a trip like this, Cuban security agents hauled her out of her mother’s apartment and put her in jail. But just two months later, here she was in a cab with some NPR journalists, navigating the streets of Havana.

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


097 VIEW OF THE LAGOON BETWEEN THE FONDAMENTA NUOVWE AND MURANO Tania Bruguera 1993

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

Bruguera is a provocative Cuban performance artist. In December, right after President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced their diplomatic breakthrough, she flew down to Havana, Cuba from New York City, New York where she has lived in recent years.

“I don’t know what would happen, I think I would not be allowed to arrive there.” After some futile talks to get permission from Cuban officialdom, she announced that she would stage a performance piece at the square, a sacred place for the regime. She invited Cubans to come speak freely into a microphone for one minute about life on the island. It was the first real test of just how tolerant the country had become of dissident voices. Some dissidents showed up and security forces arrested more than thirty of them. The event never happened. Bruguera was detained before she could even get to the square, and her Cuban passport was taken. In the months since, she has been jailed twice and interrogated several times. Now, looking out the window, we could see lights in the tall buildings of Havana starting to come on. We could see the sidewalks and the pavement bathed in the yellow hue of the street lights.

The afternoon before, we had met with Bruguera for an interview and asked what she thought would happen if she tried to visit the square again. “I don’t know what would happen,” she said. “I think I would not be allowed to arrive there.” Then, she smiled mischievously and asked, “Do you want to try it?” Trouble is not new for Bruguera. Her performances have often been described as outrageous. Perhaps the best example of that happened during the Venice Biennale in 2009. As part of a performance exploring the sacrifices political artists have to make, she loaded a gun with a single bullet and played Russian roulette on stage. Her audience was stunned and stepped in to stop her. “I was lucky, I guess,” Bruguera said. “My work in general, and I think art in general, is the space you have in society to push the boundaries of behavior, of social conduct and also politics.” She added: “I think artists can use themselves in performance to say what other people will not dare to do or to say.” Bruguera, 46, was born in Havana. Her father was a man who believed in the revolution and worked for the Castro regime as a diplomat. In the ‘90s, Bruguera caused her father and the regime heartache when she printed her own newspaper—a serious crime in Cuba. And in 2009 for the Havana Art Biennial, she staged a performance she

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


called Taitlin’s Whisper #6. El Susurro de Tatlin #6 (versión para La Habana) from Estudio Bruguera.­ A podium was flanked by two people dressed as soldiers. As each Cuban said his or her piece, one of the costumed soldiers placed a white dove on the speaker’s shoulder. One of the speakers was popular blogger Yoani Sanchez, whom the government considers a dissident. During her one-minute speech, Sanchez said that “the time has come to jump over the wall of control.” The Cuban government was not impressed. The Biennial organizing committee called Bruguera’s work “an anti-cultural event of shameful opportunism that offends Cuban artists and foreigners who came to offer their work and solidarity.”

099

By planning a similar performance for Havana’s Revolution Square in December, Bruguera was courting trouble. And she found it. La Plaza de la Revolucíon is Havana’s Red Square, its Tiananmen Square. It’s a vast open space beside the seashore. It’s known as a place for mass, government-organized rallies. When we arrived at the square, Bruguera noted how beautiful it is and also how imposing it seemed. On one side is a monumental statue of Cuba’s independence hero, José Martí. On the other side, in the distance, are buildings for the ministries of defense

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E CURRENT EVENTS

TATLIN’S WHISPER #6 (HAVANA VERSION) Tania Bruguera, 2009 MEDIUM: Decontextualization of an action, Behavior Art MATERIALS: Stage, Podium, Microphones, 1 Loudspeaker inside and one outside of the building, 2 persons on a military outfit, White dove, 1 minute free of censorship per speaker, 200 disposable cameras with flash DIMENSIONS: Variable

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


and interior with outline portraits of Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, two of the country’s bearded revolutionary heroes. La Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana’s version of Moscow’s Red Square or Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, as the sun rises over the city.

“The biggest damage they have done to me is now I have doubts about the revolution that I didn’t have three months ago.”

“Three months ago, I would have thought somebody saying all this was crazy,” Bruguera said. “The biggest damage they have done to me is now I have doubts about the revolution that I didn’t have three months ago.”

N EW EPOCA.COM

101

Bruguera said that since her aborted performance, the Cuban government has tried to intimidate her. The prosecutor handling her case checks in with her a few times a week, she said, and the block leader makes sure she knows that they are watching her at all moments. For the first few weeks following her performance, state security vehicles parked outside her place in Havana. And she said that in an effort to alienate her, the state has tried to scare her friends.


TH E CURRENT EVENTS

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


103

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E CURRENT EVENTS

By the time we got to the foot of the statue of José Martí, she seemed more at ease. She said that all she intended to do here last December was put a microphone right here, in this symbolic square. “The idea was to invert the dynamic,” she said. “Because we are always here looking up to the leaders of the revolution and hearing their own microphones. I wanted to revert that dynamic

She wanted to shake Cubans of their “automatic responses,” their “learned responses” and “give people the freedom to say whatever they want.” and have the microphone in the street, in the place where normally you would walk, passively or shouting some chants that you learned.” She said she wanted to shake Cubans of their “automatic responses,” their “learned responses” and “give people the freedom to say whatever they want.”

“Good politicians know how to give new meanings to everything,” she said. “And the Cuban revolution has been a very good example, almost a case study of that. Fidel was really brilliant at changing the meanings of things, and that’s what an artist does — an artist rethinks the meaning of things.” In choosing this hallowed, political ground for her performance, Bruguera said that she wanted to “give art a space in the history of the country.” All of that, obviously, didn’t happen. Instead, Tania Bruguera’s future is now a huge question mark. The government has yet to decide whether she will charged and tried for what they hold was an attempt at inciting a public disturbance. Tania Bruguera’s passport is still in their hands. The day before, Bruguera told us that she feels like she is re-enacting her Russian roulette piece — this time taking her chances with Cuban authorities. By the time we wrapped up our interview, we were no longer under the cover of night. Bruguera was standing at Revolution Square in broad daylight. A lone police officer was now keeping watch, and as we made our way back to the tax cab, Tania Bruguera greeted him. “Buenos dias,” she said. He just nodded.

As we talked, the sky began to turn orange and the stars began to fade into the light. In a space like this and talking to a person like Bruguera, the line between art and politics seemed blurred.

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


TH E SECTION

TH E SPRI NG EDITION

LA VOZ EXCHANGE

105 LA PLAZA DE LA REVOLUCION

VISIT US AT LAVOZEXCHANGE.COM

PAGE 105 N/EW 160 EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


BY DAVID D’ARCY

WITH THE LOOSENING OF UNITED STATES RESTRAINTS ON TRADE WITH CUBA, PRISONER EXCHANGES AND THE PROMISE OF WARMER TIES TO COME, THE TWO COUNTRIES ARE CLOSER THAN THEY HAVE BEEN FOR 50 YEARS. BUT FOR THOSE CUBAN EXILES IN THE US WHOSE ART WAS SEIZED BY THE CUBAN AUTHORITIES IN THE 1960S, RESTITUTION OF THEIR PROPERTY IS STILL NO CLOSER. CUBA CONTINUES TO DISMISS THE CHARGES THAT THE ART WAS STOLEN, LEAVING NO MEANS FOR ITS RETURN.

107

VIEW OF THE LAGOON BETWEEN THE FONDAMENTA NUOVWE AND MURANO Francesco Guardi, 1953

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E CURRENT EVENTS

T

he latest c ase involves a Cuban-born neurosurgeon who lives in Jacksonville, Florida. Javier Garcia-Bengochea is claiming Francesco Guardi’s View of the Lagoon between the Fondamenta Nuove and Murano, 1757, from the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana. GarciaBengochea says that one of his relatives bought the painting at Parke-Bernet in New York for $1,000 in 1957 and then took it to Cuba. Garcia-Bengochea’s family supported Fidel Castro in the early 1950s, hoping that the rebels might staunch the era’s flagrant corruption, but that support soured once the insurgency prevailed and nationalisations followed. Garcia-Bengochea’s parents and other relatives decamped to Florida. The picture was seized from a relative’s house in Cuba and ended up in the Havana museum, where Garcia-Bengochea saw it a few years ago. He tried in vain to show documents detailing the 1957 purchase to staff at the museum. “In most of the articles you read about missing art in Cuba, the question is—where is the piece? That’s not my issue. I know where it is, I just can’t get to it. There’s no method of my claimed ownership being adjudicated,” Garcia-Bengochea says. “At least it’s in a museum, and not in some official’s house,” says Alberto Bustamante, a doctor and book collector in Orlando, Florida, who traced the seizure and sale of art from private Cuban collections in his book The Pillage of Cuban Patrimony, 2012. Bustamante and others predict that rising international demand for Cuban art could induce cash-poor officials to sell confiscated art to visitors with dollars. The sale of nationalised art abroad began almost immediately after the first seizures. After 1959, Cuban rebels stripped official buildings of art, books and architectural decorations, and the homes of those who fled the country were also emptied.

Much of the seized material was immediately sold abroad; other items were placed in museums. Some are still piled up in warehouses in Havana.

“In most of the articles you read about missing art in Cuba, the question is — where is the piece? That’s not my issue. I know where it is, I just can’t get to it. There’s no method of my claimed ownership being adjudicated,” Sources say that from the 1960s to the 1980s, staff in Havana museums often sold objects under the counter to diplomats and wealthy visitors. Some badly paid curators survived on that trade. BOOMING MARKET The market for Cuban art is booming; 20 th Century Modernists such as Wifredo Lam, Amelia Peláez and René Portocarrero are particularly popular. Works by these artists once filled homes in Cuba that were pillaged in the 1960s. The Miami-based dealer Ramon Cernuda believes that a boom in US tourism to Cuba could also be a windfall for 20 th Century Cuban Modernism. “US collectors who go to Cuba are finding out that you can buy these artists for very little money, compared with the prices for other top 20 th Century artists,” he says.

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


109 TROPIQUE DU CAPRICORNE Wilfred Lam, 1961 1961

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


“Our sales have doubled in the past couple of months,” says Cernuda, who is described by some exiles as a “collaborationist” for selling art from Cuba. Those exiles were traditionally Cernuda’s best

“People arn't going to feel comfortable buying if they think that somebody is going to come down the line and take it away from them,”

Pressure in the US from the influential Fanjul sugar dynasty and others led to stiff penalties on anyone selling art that had been confiscated in Cuba. Under the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, the families of traffickers in stolen Cuban art could be denied entry to the US. In response, both Sotheby’s and Christie’s consignments of objects if the names of pre-Revolution owners or known dealers in seized Cuban art came up. The stringent law has driven much of that trade underground.

DISAPPOINTMENT IN BOSTON Another outstanding issue between Cuba and the US involves the claims made by US citizens for industrial, commercial and private property seized in Cuba after Castro came to power. According to some estimates, this property could be worth around seven billion dollars. These claims now serve to block museum loans between the US and Cuba. The exhibition “Wifredo Lam: Imagining New Worlds” at the High Museum, Atlanta, will show paintings and works on paper by the late AfroChinese-Cuban artist. The director and curator of the McMullen Museum at Boston College, the show’s initial venue, travelled to Havana to secure loans of works by Lam from the Museum of Fine Arts. The Havana museum agreed to send a group of pictures, but the loans were never made. The US State Department discouraged the Boston museum from applying for immunity from seizure for the pictures, citing Cuba’s status as a country that “supports international terrorism”. Even with immunity from seizure from the State Department, that stigma put the pictures at risk of being held to satisfy outstanding legal claims against US property seized by the Cuba govermnet. The US’s loss is Europe’s gain. Works by Lam from Havana are now due to travel to a retrospective at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, in September.

LE SOMBRE MALEMBO, DIEU DU CARREFOUR Wilfred Lam, 1943

N EW EPOCA.COM

111

customers, but now, “70% of our sales are to nonCuban Americans”, he says. As the market rises, pieces that once disappeared could resurface, and specialists warn that the issue of restitution must be faced head-on. “People aren’t going to feel comfortable buying [art] if they think that somebody’s going to come down the line and take it away from them,” says Mari-Claudia Jiménez, a Cuban-American lawyer specialising in art recovery at the firm Herrick Feinstein in New York.

One of the problems faced by those seeking the return of their property is that there are few records documenting the nationalisations and the subsequent sales of works abroad. Nevertheless, “there are people who are still alive who remember the paintings on the walls of their houses, and who have pictures of them”, Jiménez.


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


11 3

N EW EPOCA.COM


CUBAN ARTISTS TO KNOW

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


NEW ÉPOCA’S SPRING MAGAZINE SHOWCASES AMAZING CUBAN ARTISTS THAT HAVE MADE A MARK ON CUBAN ART.

120

X ALFONSO

126

W H AT S I N YO U R T O O L B OX : LOU R DES SANCH EZ

136

EXILED CUBAN AU THOR , ABILIO E S T E V E Z . " I T D O E S N O T M AT T E R TO R E T U R N OR NOT R E T U R N . ”

14 2

LOS CAR PIN T EROS

11 5

N EW EPOCA.COM


CUBAN ARTISTS TO KNOW

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


NEW ÉPOCA’S SPRING MAGAZINE SHOWCASES AMAZING CUBAN ARTISTS THAT HAVE MADE A MARK ON CUBAN ART.

118

X ALFONSO

124

W H AT S I N YO U R T O O L B OX : LOU R DES SANCH EZ

132

EXILED CUBAN AU THOR , ABILIO E S T E V E Z . " I T D O E S N O T M AT T E R TO R E T U R N OR NOT R E T U R N . ”

138

LOS CAR PIN T EROS

117

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


119

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


SIN G E R - CO M P OSE R - PRO D U CE R

N EW EPOCA.COM

1 21

THE HIPPEST PLACE TO BE IN HAVANA IS AN OLD OLIVE OIL FACTORY ONCE KNOWN AS EL COCINERO. REINCARNATED THIS FEBRUARY AS THE Fテ。RICA DE ARTE CUBANO (FAC), IT IS THE BRAINCHILD OF CUBAN ROCKER, RAPPER AND FILMMAKER EQUIS ALFONSO X AND IS ALREADY TAKING THE CUBAN ARTS SCENE BY STORM .


CUBAN ARTISTS TO KNOW

P

a r t M ia m i A r t B a s e l, p a r t Williamsburg warehouse party, the FAC hosts viewings, per formances and exhibitions of cinema, theatre, dance, music, literature, fashion, architecture, graphic design, photography, and the visual ar ts. Ever y evening, Havana hipsters—wearing Zara tops, TOMS shoes purchased in Miami, and talking on iPhones—form a line around the block to enter. For a 2 CUC fee ($2, or 50 Cuban pesos) to enter the former factory space, they can sit on and among artistic installations, walk past walls of photographs and paintings, watch documentaries, and dance to some of Cuba’s hottest music. FAC opened on February 13, 2014,

with a mission to tear down the walls between different artistic mediums, shed art world pretension and bring together the entire community. It was inaugurated with a bang: X himself performed among the works of 33 other Cuban artists. No one on the island is better suited to promote the FAC’s unique blend of mixed media than X . Now 41, he was raised in a world of ar tistic fusion, studying classical piano from the age of seven, playing in the jazz group Estado de Ánimo, and—upon completing his conservatory training—joining his parents Carlos Alfonso and Ele Valdés in their Afro-Cuban symphonic rock group, Síntesis, where he contributed percussion and vocals.

“I have always been surrounded by different art forms, and this felt like the moment to bring them together in the same space, knowing how much their unification has contributed to me, both as a person and an artist,” X Alfonso states. By the time his first solo album, Mundo Real (Real World), appeared in 2000, X was already known across the island for his mastery of different

and performances at the PABEXPO Exhibition Center in Havana. After searching for several years, the team finally found a more permanent home in El Cocinero. X insists on playing down his own role in turning FAC into a thriving artistic community, even though his growing international prominence has helped ensure the organization’s success. He received a 2000 Coral Award

DISCOGRAPHY L A R G A D I S TA N C I A - 2 0 1 1

C I V I L I Z AC I O N - 2 0 0 6

R E A L WO R L D - 2 0 1 1

DELIRIUM TREMENS - 2002

R E V E RS E - 2 0 1 1

MORÉ - 2001

R E VO L UXI O N - 2 0 1 1

genres—from funk and hip-hop to rock, reggae and rumba—and for the diverse audiences that gathered to hear him play. His concerts themselves are works of ar tistic experimentation, of ten including painters, rappers and dancers on stage with videos playing on the surrounding walls. The emerging creativity of Cuba’s art scene inspired X’s original vision of bringing together Cuban musicians, dancers, stage actors, and visual artists under the same roof. In mid-2010, he and a group of collaborators secured support from the Ministry of Culture and the Instituto Cubano de la Música (Cuban Institute of Music) to hold ar tistic events

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION

from Havana’s Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano (International Festival of New Latin American Cinema) for co-composing the score of Cuban film María Antonia and garnered Latin Grammy nominations for his music in 2001 and 2002. In 2005, he was honored with Spain’s Goya Award for best original music in the film Habana Blues. “The future of the FAC is in the hands of the artists and their imaginations,” X says. “The most important thing is that it has already created the possibility of creating and living together.”


123

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


1 25

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


F E B R UA R Y 2 3 , 2 0 1 5

BY GINNY BRANCH STELLING

READ ON FOR A PEEK INTO THE LIFE OF THIS TALENTED LADY!

N EW EPOCA.COM

1 27

LOURDES SANCHEZ IS A CUBAN-BORN ARTIST AND TEXTILE DESIGNER RESIDING IN BROOKLYN, WHERE SHE MAKES HER PAINTERLY WATERCOLOR PATTERNS THAT ARE EQUAL PARTS GEOMETRIC AND ORGANIC. HER CLIENT LIST IS A ROSTER OF AWESOMENESS: ANTHROPOLOGIE, KATE SPADE, CRATE & BARREL AND PRABAL GURUNG, TO NAME A FEW. SHE WAS EVEN SNATCHED UP BY WEST ELM, WHO TRANSLATED HER ART INTO FRAMED PIECES AND PILLOW DESIGNS FEATURING AQUATIC MOTIFS.


CUBAN ARTISTS TO KNOW

Design*Sponge: What is in your toolbox? Lourdes Sanchez: Incredible white mask liquid frisket, Arches watercolor paper, lots of wall space for mood boards, T pins, masking tape, hardware store sponge brushes, .07 mechanical pencils with 2B leads, kneaded erasers, my library, Pinterest.

DS : What is on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now? Lourdes Sanchez: I am looking at the books Signs and Symbols: African Images in African American Quilts by Maude Southwell Wahlman; The Sun in Art, first published in 1962 and edited by Walter Herdeg; and Ellsworth Kelly’s Tablet. I also have a stack of vintage Vanidades magazines from the early ’60s through the ’70s that I bought in Mexico and beautifully faded old cotton Indian block-printed bedspreads and skirts from flea markets that have been piling up.

DS : How do you keep yourself organized? Do you have an agenda book, and do you make to-do lists? LS: After I finish getting ready for a show or a new collection, I do a big tidy session that can take days or weeks. The books get put away, the piles of paper and references and miscellaneous rubble are sorted through and tossed out

or filed away, and so on. It clears my mind for new things and gets things organized for when I start designing and painting again. I do a to-do list with a big Sharpie and put it on the refrigerator door. Agenda books tend to get lost under piles of ephemera when the studio gets busy.

DS : If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why? LS: I would love to be able to disappear and then pop up anywhere else in the world whenever I wanted.

DS : What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist/designer? LS: To be honest, most of the advice I have received was mostly useful by doing the exact opposite of that advice. Even the most sincerely offered advice is only someone reporting back from their own life story. So I don’t really like to give advice. I would just say that I believe in studying and looking at everything, combined with going deep inside yourself and bringing out what is truly and uniquely in you, combined with a steady and regular practice so that you have the skills to realize your vision.

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


TH E SECTION

TH E SPRI NG EDITION

129

VISIT US AT N EW EPOCA.COM

PAGE 129 N/EW 160 EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

DS : How do you combat creative blocks? LS: I don’t have creative blocks. I tend to have too many ideas at once, and that can be over whelming, paralyzing and anxiety-producing because I don’t know which ones to do first in the time I have available. I make a rough list of ideas in the order I can do them, and that helps a lot.

DS : Where do you like to shop for inspiration? L S: I don’t go out looking for inspiration as much as it happens naturally when I am doing things I love to/need to do anyway. I love going to the Rockefeller wing of the Metropolit an Museum, second-hand bookstores in any city or town I find myself in, nature books in the basement at Strand, vintage clothing stores, Brooklyn Flea, children’s drawings, high-end florist shops, found objects, the Balenciaga store in Chelsea New York City, trees and vegetation anywhere, long walks around Gowanus with my little camera, the old markets in Yucatan, Mexico. “Inspiration” is a nonstop stream, really, that can be anywhere at any time.

DS : If you could peek inside the studio/toolbox of any designer/artist/craftsperson, whose would it be and why? LS: I would love to have seen that of Morris Louis, as it’s still such a fabulous mystery how he did it.

DS : If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it include? LS: Some songs in rotation at the moment are Er ykah Badu, “Window Seat”; Blood Orange, “Sutphin Boulevard”; Air, “Ce Matin La”; Joy Division, “Atmosphere”; N e w O r d e r, “ T h i e v e s L i k e Us”; R y C ooder, Paris, Texas soundtrack, “She’s Leaving the Bank” and “Cancion Mixteca”; Silvio Rodriguez, “La Gota de Rocio”; Carter Burwell, True Grit soundtrack, “The Wicked Flee.” In between, I am also listening to Jeanette Winterson reading her book Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? as an audiobook.

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


1 31

N EW EPOCA.COM


VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


133

GET COOL CUBAN PRODUCTS FROM REAL CUBAN ARTISTS, NOT THE TOURIST JUNK YOUR ABUELOS BUYS YOU. VISIT NEWEPOCA.COM TO PURCHASE PRODUCTS AND FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE ARTISTS FEATURED IN THIS QUARTER'S MAGAZINE.

N EW EPOCA.COM


CUBAN ARTISTS TO KNOW

EXILED CUBAN AUTHOR, ABILIO ESTEVEZ.

“IT DOES NOT MATTER TO RETURN OR NOT RETURN.” 1 4Y M E D I O

YOANI SANCHEZ, HAVANABARCELONA, DURING THIS YEAR’S INTERNATIONAL BOOK FAIR IN HAVANA, ABILIO ESTEVEZ’S NOVEL, LOS PALACIOS DISTANTES (DISTANT PALACES), WAS PRESENTED. LIVING IN BARCELONA FOR THE LAST FIFTEEN YEARS, ON THIS

OCCASION THE AUTHOR BRINGS US THE STORY OF VICTORIO, A CHARACTER WHO SHARES HIS PAINS AND PASSIONS.

J

ust a few hours after the launch of the book in the Alejo Carpentier room, the novelist with a degree in Hispanic Language and Literature responded by email to some questions for the readers of 14ymedio, from Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter where he lives and creates.

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


1 35

N EW EPOCA.COM


CUBAN ARTISTS TO KNOW

“I’m not one who is going to close doors on himself.” 14ymedio: To those who still haven’t read Los palacios... and hope to get a copy at the Book Fair, what would you like to warn them about before they enter your pages? Estevez: Nothing, I would not warn them. I think should have its own importance, and the author should pass as unnoticed as possible. Also, the book should always be a mystery to solve, an adventure about which you have no idea. When I was in high school, for example, there were many books I didn’t read because of “warnings” from my teachers. Or I prejudged them, if I read on the back of Buddenbrooks that it was “a reflection of bourgeois decadence.” Later I read those books, I enjoyed them, and I realized the time I had lost because of the “warnings,” which most of the time were too biased. “I’m not one who is going to close doors on himself.” 14YM: The novel was originally published by Tusquets Editores, in 2002. What was the process to achieve this Cuban edition?

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION

Estevez: Yes, the Tusquets edition came out thirteen years ago. Some time ago Alfredo Zalvidar wrote me kindly asking for permission to publish Los palacios distantes in the publishing house he directed, Ediciones Matanzas. I was very pleased. I told him yes, of course. I’m not one who is going to close doors on himself. I put him in contact with the rights office of Tusquests Editores, and that’s all I know. For the process on the that side you’ll have to ask Zalvidar. 14YM: Laughter, dreams, and hope slip into the life of Victorio, the protagonist of Los Palacios... despite his living a reality that is falling to pieces, like his house. How much of your own personal experience is in your story? Estevez: Certainly there is a lot of my own experience such as, for example, Victorio’s homosexuality and the collapse of his house. However, I believe that it’s a mistake to confuse the character with the author. However much of me is in Victorio, it is also true that there are many other people and,


as is natural, imagination. There is a moment in the novel, for example, when Victorio says he never knew love. A true friend, a night of confidences, said to me, “It has happened with me as with you.” “What happened to me?” I asked. Never having known love. I had to laugh. However confessional a novel may seem, it is no more than that, a novel. 14YM: How do you deal with distance when writing about a reality that you haven’t lived since two decades ago?

14YM: What have you brought to your writing life in Barcelona? How much have you changed from the point of view of writing your experiences as an immigrant? Estevez: Everything you experience brings something to literature if you are alert to it. Barcelona is a cultured and beautiful city. And I believe that the mere act of walking through the Gothic Quarter transforms the vision you might have about anything. With regards to exile, it seems to me an extraordinary experience, even if it is painful. When I was a child and they took me to church, I heard a prayer to the Virgin that at some point said something like, “To you we cry, the banished children of Eve.” And then I asked, “Why banished? Banished

from where?” I didn’t understand until much later, although my interpretation had nothing to do with religion, because I wasn’t religious. I remember a phrase of Elias Canetti: “Only in exile does one realize how much of the world has always been a world of outlaws.” It’s very good for a writer, this sensation of losing things, of knowing that you are not going to have them again. 14YM: Readers have followed and admired your work for years. Will we soon be able to enjoy a presentation of your novels where you will be physically present? Will you return to this Havana of “the distant palaces”?

N EW EPOCA.COM

Estevez: Thank you for the “followed and admired.” This question has no answer. It does not matter to return or not return, because I really want to return to is the times that I lived and that, to my knowledge, is not possible.

1 37

Estevez: I suppose this is difficult if you try to write precisely about a certain “reality.” I suppose it might have been difficult for Emile Zola or for Miguel de Carrion. But for me, I’m not interested in sociology disguised as fiction, something more than reality concerns me, isf we reduce the word to its sociopolitical connotations. I am not a “costumbrista” - a novelist of quaint manners. At least I don’t want to be one. And the world is fortunately wide and strange, and the problems of human beings are alike and

different in each place where one lives. The same distance as literary material. I don’t live this reality, but I live another that also wants to be narrated. Also, I always remember and quote that phrase of Nabokov’s in a wonderful interview, when he responded that everything he needed of Russia he carried with him.


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


139

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


2015

BY ROSA LOWINGER

A recent inter view with Los Carpinteros in their Havana studio shed some light on the process by which three individual ar tists work as one author.

AT THE ROOT OF LOS CARPINTEROS IS AN UNBASHED RESPECT OF CRAFT, IN WHATEVER FORM IT MAY TAKE.

N EW EPOCA.COM

141

THE NAME OF THE CUBAN ART COLLECTIVE, MADE UP OF MARCO CASTILLO AND DAGOBERTO RODRÍGUEZ (& UNTIL 2003, ALEXANDRE ARRECHEA), ABANDONS THE NOTION OF INDIVIDUAL AUTHORSHIP AND INSTEAD ADOPTS THE STORIED LEGACY OF THE ARTISAN AND THE SKILLED LABORER.

BEST KNOWN FOR TONGUEIN-CHEEK DRAWINGS AND SCULPTURES THAT BONDS VARIOUS MEDIA WITH POLITICAL CONTENT DERIVED FROM EVERYDAY LIFE (PAST WORKS INCLUDE A STOVE MODELED INTO THE SHAPE OF A SOFA, A CONGA DRUM MELTED INTO A DRIPPING POOL OF INK-LIKE METAL, AND AN AIRPLANE RIDDLED WITH WOODEN ARROWS), THEIR WORK CONTESTS AND PERVERTS PRECONCEIVED IDEAS OF FUNCTIONALITY.


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


T HEIR LATEST EXHIBITION, “Irreversible,” at New York’s Sean Kelly Gallery, presents a series of new work from Los Carpinteros, that rooted in the semiotics of public art, and scrutinizes how political and societal changes, community, and the role of the anonymous citizen intersect. Among the works on display is a series of sculptures inspired by select monuments in the former Soviet Union and built using LEGO bricks. Two aluminum portraits, Cachita and Emelino, mimic the iconography of the stylized, backlit representations of Cuban revolutionaries Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos and apply them to the artists’ relatives. Other notable pieces include Conga Irreversible, a video installation produced for the 2012 Havana Biennial in which a company of dancers perform the traditional comparsa dance backwards, and Tomates, an installation of multiple sculptural elements representing the act of political protest the world over.

or the history of design?

DAGOBERTO RODRÍGUEZ: We see as a whole body. But sometimes we don’t know very clearly what’s a piece of art and a piece of very good design, maybe because we d o n’ t m a ke d is ti n c ti o n s— because a very good design is a piece of art. So we are confusing these things, no? But at the beginning, when we started our career, we were totally impressed by catalogs. Ikea catalogs, the Sears 19th-century catalog. Amazing. Amazing objects. MARCO CASTILLO: I think art history and design are really not correct to think or to help to think about our inspiration. Probably, this work is useful to talk about the appearance of our work. But really, the inspiration comes more from life and social things, and sometimes politics. And we later find a body to put these ideas and these feelings into. For example, we are interested in everyday objects, but not because they are beautiful or they are design, or anything like that, it’s because they talk a lot about what we did, about how we live, about how we think.

N EW EPOCA.COM

14 3

Los Carpinteros’ bold juxtaposition of era, subject, and style in “Irreversible” deftly appraises the multifaceted relationship between the public and the institution, and how political change affects the individual. Interview stopped by Sean Kelly to see Los Carpinteros in action as they installed their piece, Tomates. We managed to avoid the splatters of the watercolor-injected fruit and, after the pair washed up, we sat down to discuss art versus design, Ikea catalogs, and the power of propaganda.

COLLEEN KELSEY: Do you pull more inspiration from art history


CUBAN ARTISTS TO KNOW

KELSEY: A lot the pieces that you have made before—I’m thinking of the stove furniture sculptures, for example—have a function. They can turn on and be used and whatnot, but they also have the semblance of an everyday object. Some of the pieces in the show —LEGO sculptures, specifically —use an everyday object, but the sculpture doesn’t have a function besides communicating concept. Do you think that the transition from objects that are functional to objects that are not functional is something new for you, or a new direction you’re going in?

CAS TILLO : Maybe there was a period that things were more focused on functionality. R O D R Í G U E Z : B u t n ot re a ll y, b e c a u s e, fo r exa m p l e, th os e objects like the stove, we wanted to use the skin of the everyday object, but they were transporting some ideas, and they don’t have anything to do with design. CASTILLO: I think the functionality is a great tool that we always use. Understand functionality as a simple fact of sitting or using a drawer, or things like that—but we also think in the way people use the object, there’s a lot of language in it. In that way, we play more with this freedom that we have. Sometimes certain works are more functional, more obviously functional, and certain works are not so obviously functional. However, they can be talking about functionality. In the

case of the monuments, our sculptures based on monuments from the past, from the beginning of the century until near half-century, even the ‘60s, these objects were used as symbols. RODRÍGUEZ: They were propaganda. Political propaganda. They were objects related with socialism; they were advertising ways of life, ways of living, and ideas about future, about— CASTILLO: Power, also. But it’s not printed propaganda. It’s almost life propaganda. They were used to get people together, as meeting points. It was a way to handle the masses. KELSEY: You use such a variety of materials, whether it’s video, or manipulation of the LEGOs, or tomatoes. When you are working on an artwork or a concept, do you look to materials as a place to explore, or does the concept dictate what you use?

RODRÍGUEZ: I think the concept dictates a lot what material you have to choose. In the case of the tomato, we wanted to make the tomato like the LEGO—domestic. This was one of the things that interested us. Also, to use porcelain for the tomato to make a scenario, a domestic scenario, like a kitchen. All of those materials have a strong connection with the place where you live, no? They are very domestic, no?

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION

CASTILLO: But also the word “material” can be interpreted in a few levels. LEGO is not a material. LEGO is a language, no? For toys or whatever. The material is plastic. But we are now calling a LEGO a material. But also, we use the idea of the socialist monuments as a material, even if this is a conceptual material. In this way, materials can [and should] be treated in our work in different levels. RODRÍGUEZ: But originally all those structures have been made of concrete, which is a more permanent thing. CASTILLO: There, material is really important. Everything was made of concrete. They could have done it also in stone but they made it in concrete. Concrete is heavy. RODRÍGUEZ: It’s a different way to see immor talit y.They think that their system was created for forever. CASTILLO: They wanted to show skills, also. Because pouring concrete is a hard, amazing technique for architects. It’s just a specialty. You have to do a lot of calculations. When the United States was showing up with cars, they were showing up with symbols. In the case of the video, the material seems to be the video. It seems, “Oh, this guy has an interest in video.” But no, no, no, we are not interested in video. Video was whatever we found to put this here. But the material was the human,


14 5

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

the human beings. When you see the video, what’s really the material of the work, the important material, was the human beings. We had to train these people. You know there’s a lot of things going on in the video, because people had to be trained to dance backwards for six months. The whole company had to be trained, 60 people. And that took a lot of effort. Because sometimes it difficult to dance forward. [laughs] Imagine to dance backwards, for a few minutes, with all the obstacles of the street, the public. Also the music was composed backwards. RODRÍGUEZ: The dancers, they made it so strongly, so hard, that when they tried to do it, they forgot how to dance normally. CASTILLO: So these people were supposed to train and this training was already creating a concept of the world. Just the effort, just to think about that, is making the work. That’s why I say the material of the work is not really video, or projection, or whatever. The material is human beings. KELSEY: The monuments are pulled from Eastern Bloc countries and the portraits that you have made are modeled from Che Guevara propaganda portraits. Do you feel like these portraits reflect the Cuban Communist experience in particular, or do you feel like they represent political involvement on a global scale,

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


as a representation of people from different parts of the world and how they feel about being affected by political and societal changes?

RODRÍGUEZ: It’s not only based on the things that we saw in Cuba, it’s more related to how these things make you feel. How this object makes you feel, think. CASTILLO: But the whole exhibition has a strong base in public art. Not only public art, [but the] treatment of the public, in different ways. The monuments, we know, were these amazing places that were there to keep the population amazed by the power of this certain government, all the different governments, because they don’t come from one country, they come from different countries.

Then we had the Che Guevara language. It’s not only the Che Guevara, also Evita Perón being represented in Argentina. . .

RODRÍGUEZ: ‘50s propaganda. CASTILLO: Even before... are you talking about the Cuban one? RODRÍGUEZ: Yeah, the Cuban. CA S T I L LO : Th e Rus sian was something that came from the vanguardia, the avant-garde art. KELSEY: The Constructivists.

CASTILLO: Constructivism. And every country developed differently. For [Cuba], the language we had was the American advertisement language. And we built our ideas and the socialism with these tools. And, I think, this technology was probably for advertisements of things in the past. The backlit drawing, you don’t see that much anymore. But what remains in the Plaza de la Revolución [in Havana] is Che Guevara [chuckles] and not Coca-Cola.

RODRÍGUEZ: Using this same language.

N EW EPOCA.COM

147

[With] the tomatoes, it’s not the public receiving information, or being punished, or anything like that. In this case it’s the public reacting. This is not related to Cuba at all, or, yes, why not? Cuba did it at the beginning of the revolution. People throwing tomatoes to a wall could be interpreted to anything— other people, to a car, against a poster, against something. It’s people reacting.

CASTILLO: And I think in few other countries they use it, but we don’t have the records. We know in Latin America. I don’t know why they use this language specifically, but I think it’s also related to the United States, because in Latin America we didn’t have the language of the Eastern European countries, they had a language based on the design of their—


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


149

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E CREDITS

LOS CRÉDITOS VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


THIS QUARTER OF NEW ÉPOCA’S MAGAZINE SHOWCASES SOME AMAZING CUBAN ARTISTS AND ARTICLES WITH THE HELP OF SEVERAL COLLABORATORS.

150

THE AU THORS & PHOTOGR APHERS

152

WA N T T O C O L L A B O R AT E W I T H N E W ÉP OC A?

1 51

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E CREDITS

LOS CRÉDITOS VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


THIS QUARTER OF NEW ÉPOCA’S MAGAZINE SHOWCASES SOME AMAZING CUBAN ARTISTS AND ARTICLES WITH THE HELP OF SEVERAL COLLABORATORS.

152

THE AU THORS & PHOTOGR APHERS

154

WA N T T O C O L L A B O R AT E W I T H N E W ÉP OC A?

15 3

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


PHOTOGRAPHIC CONTENT

FIU cri.fiu.edu/research/cuba-poll/2014fiu-cuba-poll.pdf

Chronical Books The Novo Family Eric Fisher Chris Gold Nathanel Laurell MiltonPoint Thaths Christopher Michel lezumbalaberenjena Ă lvaro Remesal Royo Momo Carsten ten Brink Jaume Escofet Mary Abq Alex Mene

transpersonalspirit.wordpress. com/2013/04/08/visionary-worksof-ana-mendieta/ artexpertswebsite.com/pages/artists/abela.php museumoflatinamericanart.tumblr. com/post/47819996887/wine-loving-vagabond-antonio-gattorno-cuba repeatingislands.com/2014/12/30/ cubas-art-scene-awaits-a-travelboom/

flickr.com/claudiaregina_cc

taniabruguera.com

havana-cultura.com

huffingtonpost.com/ricardo-herrero/six-lessons-ininnovation_b_8241974.html

loscarpinteros.net

huffingtonpost.com/yoanisanchez/exiled-cuban-authorabili_b_6702864.html .loscarpinteros.net/

taniabruguera.com/cms/112-0Tatlins+Whisper+6+Havana+version. htm .destination360.com/caribbean/ cuba/images/s/havana-streets.jpg thecubaneconomy.com/wp-content/ uploads/2011/10/GuiraWagon08.jpg

N EW EPOCA.COM

artdistricts.com/ http://w3ins.com/ biography.com/image /upload/c_fit,cs_ srgb,dpr_1.0,h_1200,q_80,w_1200/ MTE5NDg0MDU0ODk0OTA0ODQ3. jpg nuevayork-exhibition.org/images/ Gallery4/83335d_DutyOfTheHour_ Halrymple.jpg lib.utexas.edu/maps/americas/ cuba.jpg folkartalliance.org/el-grupo-bayaterealizing-dreams-of-art-and-community/ inigoporelmundo.files.wordpress. com/2012/06/img_2125.jpg huffingtonpost.com/yoanisanchez/exiled-cuban-authorabili_b_6702864.html

1 55

WRITTEN CONTENT / SUPPORT


INTERESTED IN BEING FEATURED IN THE QUARTER OR IN WORKING WITH US ON A NEW PROJECT?

THIS COULD BE YOU

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


APPLICATION GUIDELINES

WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE?

HOW TO APPLY?

The application process happens in two consecutive stages

Project proposals must include the following

-Submission of interest in collaborating or being featured in the first step rolling. All proposals will be reviewed by the editors at New Época.

-CV of artist/-s

-The concept of the proposal and the value of the artist/-s and the curator in the context of Icelandic and international art scene.

-CV of curator and others of the team

-Thorough description of the proposal.

-Description of interested in being featured and or collaboation, the subject or the concept that the artist / the editors will be using as their source. (max 2000 words)

-Budget and production plan based on actual price estimates.

-Thirty artists will be shortlisted for the second step for further development. There are four deadlines spanned across the year March 1st (Spring), May 1st (Summer), August 1st (Fall), and November 1st (Winter).

Artists, curators as well as a team of curator and artist/-s can apply. One of the applicants must live and work in Cuba or be of Cuban decent. -The artist/-s must have significant body of work that New Época can examine and develop.

WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE OF STAGE 2? All the names of the thirty short-listed proposals will be made public about a month after the deadline. The month following the short-listed applicants will be invited to our office to present their proposals to the editors. Each artist/team get one hour to present their final concept.

N EW EPOCA.COM

-Proposal of a program in connection with the exhibition (guided tours, symposium and events) can be included together at this stage. Applicants must hand in all documents listed above to the editors after the presentation.

HOW TO SEND IN PROPOSALS? Proposals must be sent to the Andrea Novo, Editor in Chief, through e-mail to: workwithus@newepoca.com or on our website newepoca.com.

We can't wait to work with you

1 57

WHO CAN APPLY?

-Statement on why the collaboration should occur and its artists should be showcased on our website and magazine.

The short-listed proposals must include the following


TH E SECTION

IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF NEW ÉPOCA:

VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION


1 59

N EW EPOCA.COM


TH E SECTION

M N C F F VOL. 01 / TH E SPRI NG EDITION

New Época Quarterly Magazine / Spring No. 01 / Premier