iAy Miami!

Contemporary Cuban Video Art
Shown at FACT on September 8th

Reviewed by Juliette Zoltan

The Cuban post revolutionary art videos screened at FACT varied greatly in both style and content, spanning from documentaries to animation and showing varying aspects of Cuban society. The evening started with a Q & A with the curator, Cecilia Anderson, who made 2 research visits to Havana in order to assemble the collection. Anderson described the difficulties for artists in producing video in Cuba - “I was unaware of hardship for artists, particularly in getting access for editing” and illustrated this by quoting one of the artists - “We’re about 100 students and we share one camera”. Despite the difficulties, some of the videos were well made, providing interesting social commentary.

The Hope and the Rope - Manuel Pina
Manuel Pina tells the story of the microbrigades, an initiative to construct blocks of flats which was set up by the government to address housing shortages. It was presented using a series of stills and photos interspersed with text in which the artist describes his own experiences in the microbrigades, some of which were successful, others were not. The black and white images used give a historical feel to this interesting and entertaining piece.

The Garden of Mistrust - Alexandre Arrechea
Alexandre Arrechea contrasts with the historical tone of the first piece, commenting on a more modern phenomenon – the ever present CCTV camera. The piece consists of a series of different camera shots of a tree of CCTV cameras which constantly move to monitor their surroundings. It is an interesting and disturbing commentary on the increasing use of surveillance systems.

Atardecer - Alexandre Arrechea
Alexandre Arrechea is also a comment on surveillance, featuring a palm tree surrounded by helicopters which almost appear to have sprung from the tree. The contrast between the natural and man made elements of this piece are interesting, although the piece is a little overlong.

Colgados - ENEMA
Is an attempt to restage a piece performed in the 60s by Marina Abramovic. It shows a group of men and women dressed in black suspended from a metal frame. It is set in a gallery which is filled with people observing the performance. The white walls contrast starkly with the black clothes of the performers, giving a slightly eerie feel to the piece.

Cada respiro - Glenda Leon
‘Each breath’ shows a flower growing from the abdomen of a young woman, lying on her side, breathing deeply. It is accompanied by the sound of deep breathing. The camera at first only shows a close up of the flower, and the woman emerges, framed by the beach, at the camera moves back. A sensual and relaxing piece.

Y Jesus dijo a Lazaro - Carlos Garaicoa
‘And Jesus said to Lazarus’ is a series of shots of the statue of general Franco on his horse in Santander, Spain accompanied by the sound of a horse trotting. It is an attempt to make the horse trot, thereby metaphorically setting history in motion, in a different direction. This piece is simple but effective.