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“Transnational Pilgrim,” José Bedia exhibit at the Fowler, UCLA

art, Calendar, Images No Comments »

Although we do not typically focus on the fine arts in the strict sense of the term, for those interested in–or struck by–boundary-crossing cultural productions, the work of Cuban and Cuban-American artists such as José Bedia may well be particularly compelling, and if you happen to be in the Los Angeles area this fall, this is an exhibition to investigate.  Opening Sept. 17th at the Fowler Museum with a conversation between Bedia and curators Judith Bettelheim and Janet Catherine Berlo, the exhibition will be on display from Sept. 18 through Jan. 8, 2012.  Here are two examples of Bedia’s work, courtesy of the Fowler Museum.  Above:  Pájaro que busca otro horizonte (The Bird Who Seeks Another Land), 1998, Acrylic on canvas, 231 x 414 cm, Berezdivin Collection, San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Below: Piango piango llega lejos (Step by Step You Can Go Far), 2000, Acrylic stain and oil pastel on canvas, Diam.: 245.4 cm, Collection of the Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ackland Fund, Photograph courtesy of Galeria Ramis Barquet, New York:

El Espacio Aglutinador: A documentary-in-progress

art, By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant 2 Comments »

“The Art of Survival” is a documentary in progress on Sandra Ceballos’  Espacio Aglutinador; a space where so many censored and marginalized artists have been able to exhibit for the past seventeen years. It features what seems to be a promising interview with Glexis Novoa, and I look forward to one with Ezequiel Suárez. The documentary director is an artist himself, from New Jersey, called James Rauchman, who has a series of hyperrealist paintings on, among other topics, Cuban santeria. My only objection to this film is the music (not credited: Is that Philip Glass at 7’40? Then Orishas!).Here’s the trailer:

(thanks to Jorge Mata for the link)

Timba in Drag: Alida Cervantes

art, By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Cultural production, Gender & sexuality 4 Comments »

It is not so common for heterosexual women to dress in drag, as men, and mock gender stereotypes.  Not in the Cuban context. That is not to say that macho men mannerisms are not the objects of jokes and comic skits, like The Pichy boys do -to just name one example among many;  (some of their videos, aired at Miami’s canal 41, are on youtube and are hilarious. But Alida Cervantes, a San Diego-based, Tijuana-native, painter and an MFA candidate at UCSD, has a discourse about it that goes beyond the mere mockery and seeks to expose male domination and subvert Cuban -and Latin- machismo.  She does not propose to transcend the biologies of gender nor their social value -hers is not a queer performance. What she seeks is to destabilize the cultural associations that are attached to the male-female opposition in Latin societies. Alida is intimately acquainted with Afro-Cuban culture, partly via her life partner Silfredo La O Vigo, who is a supporting character in her “El Puro” series, pa’ que luego no digan de los hombres cubanos. She directly confronts the expectations surrounding heterosexual and interracial erotic desires by performing the various characters that conform this gendered universe. She dresses in drag and impersonates timba stars who, in turn, have made a career out of  glorifying their hyper machismo. She also takes on the role of the sexually voracious woman demanded by the macho man.

Alida uses play back to perform some of their most popular dance numbers, which, at the same time, she makes into video pieces. Here are two examples. In the first, she is performing Manolito y su Trabuco’s Te Dejo Libre, a song about a woman who, left by the man, will remain a spinster. In the second video, she performs all the characters, male and female, in a song by NG La Banda.

Ernesto Bazán: Portraits of the Special Period

art, By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, daily life, new book, urban life 1 Comment »

Differently from other photographers that went to Cuba in the Special Period and immortalized its ruins and its blackness in beautiful coffee table books, Ernesto Bazán, an Italian, actually lived in Cuba for fourteen years. He lived there between 1992 and 2006, when he was forced to leave the country, along with his Cuban wife and child. His book, Bazan Cuba, was just published and is reviewed in El Pais, today thursday. You can see a selection of photographs, all in black and white, on his website.

More on the Cuban Cacique Who Made the Headlines

art, By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, traditions and folklore 1 Comment »

A few days ago, we mentioned the visit of an Indian cacique from Guantanamo to Camaguey, as reported by a local Cuban newspaper and reproduced by El Lugareño’s blog. The visit was part of an art exhibit entitled The Artist Magicians that brought together Cuban and Canadian artists (specifically, Vancouver native James K-M), as part of a project called “The Cuba Project.”  The Cuba Project has just posted several videos from the opening, including footage of a tobacco ritual (supposedly an ancestral practice) led by Panchito, the aforementioned cacique.

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