Between anagrams and paroxysms: CdeCuba Art Magazine and the vertigo of the unknown

Dr. Antonio Correa Iglesias. Miami, USA.

 

From its seeming to me —or to everyone to be so,
it does not follow that it is so.
What we can ask is whether it can make sense to doubt it.

Wittgenstein On Certainty

They sleep on the other side of the gates,
Those who for the sake of dreams
Are in the shadow visionary owners
Of the vastness of yesterday and the dead things.

Adrogué. Borges.

More than a decade has elapsed since the first edition of CdeCuba Art Magazine began to circulate to a public weary from shamelessly complacent publications lacking in analytical strength, of which began to create a demand for a less haughty and smug perspective of the most contemporary Cuban art.

I

Ten years ago the context of serialized publications specializing in the art field had been monopolized by Revista Arte Cubano the Cuban Art Magazine, an «official» unit of the National Council for Visual Arts, seconded by the Cuban Ministry of Culture, official here should not be mistaken for «oficialista» a term for pro-governement, yet between all official units there was a definitive comprehension of art phenomenon. This isn’t the moment to systemize regarding the nature of this publication, suffice to say that gradually in impetuous Latin it was recede with the exception of rare and justified occurrences which given it’s own immediacy would sustain neither idle editors or critics.

CdeCuba: Cuban Art Magazine arrived in these circumstances amongst others which would be unnecessary to delimit here. What is certain is that the magazine started to circulate surreptitiously as if whoever opened it.

Investigations and the results of which have been mechanisms structuring each edition presented over past ten years. This unusual organisational criteria as in much editorial criteria a forum of curatorial knowledge where rigorous search and analysis are at the centre. It is this professional dynamic and condition of incessant search for new references and sources which obliges those with the responsibility to curate each edition in the series to a level which leaves little space for litany or fanfare.

II

At the same time what makes the work of CdeCuba Art Magazine is the fact of having made its generation an «emergent generation» in contemporary Cuban art.

What can be understood by the term «emergent generation»? Isn’t every generation emergent in its morphology and topology? What does this generation have in particular for Cuban art? By which delimitation criteria can we include or exclude its members? What makes this generation central to magnetism or repellency? Why has an editorial project decided to place a stake on this generation, an estimate, a risk? Whichever way you look at it, this is also a trial associated with anathematic virtues.

III

«All that is solid melts into air» a spectral whisper of the vilified Karl Marx «A spectre is haunting Europe». And he was right…

Conscious of it or not, the fact is that the solidity of what once was, has today faded. The vaporous experience of what has been, leaves a latent trace, a structure, a breath of a memory.

The apparent and performative solidity of this evident vanishment comes protected since a hegemonic exercise instituted a comprehension of Cuban art; further of its contemporary or historicity. The reproached solidity which has in lacerating obstinacy refused to oxygenate itself, purporting, in the proclamation that , an absolute use of a true blindness amongst others. It seems the gerontocracy expressed in the political profile of the country, had been reproduced in each and every form of culture and each and everyone in the entire nation.

Under the influence of a solidity expressed by its institution, it has produced, conditioned and adjusted to «pre-established» patrons, a comprehension of Cuban art more or less contemporary. Of this comprehension has emerged, previous consideration and archetypical adjustment of generations, that proportionally have represented and reproduced this institution. These associated pathologies, only the fruits of closed and autotelic systems.

Being heterodox, I do not intend to enter into a debate on the periodization of Cuban art. It is neither the objective of this text to determine if Cuban art is or is not contemporary understanding it as a taxonomy, would be a folly or as if its contemporaneity adheres to the common understanding around what this concept means.

What is certain is that the two anterior generations those which have been called New Cuban Art, a movement which developed between the decade 1980 – 1990 have been those in charge of representing and reproducing this institutionalism, guarantors of a solidity crouching in the underpinning. Not by choice the Cuban intellectual Juan Marinello (1977) with a rare clairvoyance farsightedness named the «Generation of Sure Hope» an ensemble of creators insured by the «long term victorious». These «guarantees» began to be expressed from creative guidelines that were – and continue to be – directly proportional to a political culture established in the year 1961 in those anthological yet no less antagonistic «Words to the Intellectuals».

The inevitable mixture would aggregate its occurrence; even though many creators by law of nature cannot participate in this generation biologically speaking yet incorporate this from an ideological sphere.

IV

It is however interesting how the named «Generation of Sure Hope» extended or constrained in which was generating a morphology and aesthetic which penetrated all of the art scenes; there is «naivety» and nobility in the phrase, although the reality was much more overwhelming that a «dissolution» began to set in the field. The dissolution of limits of what up until then were considered by the institution as art, had come to change the ways to separate from those which it is produced, reproduced and distributed; suffice to say that conceptual comprehension came into question. At the same time, critical enquiry and ontological attitudes, did not accompany this process in an endogenous way, given its own secularity.  Does this mean to say that criticism was absent? It would not be fair to make an affirmation. What is certain is that the absence of a secular dialect in comprehension and assimilation of the changes capsizes attempts to update, not only in terms of criticism, if not also in terms of symbolic practice.

The institutional art established from a solidity apparent and protected in the political hegemony built into the culture remained unscathed before the occurrence of its own art; ratifying a solidity that was visible in its decomposition. That which in a determined context would have been natural, itself a process of logical development, lost character while in the process of establishing an identity as the status quo.

There had not been better circumstances for a collective of creators to start to give visibility to a new comprehension of art. This gradually operated in practice as an act which, converted to an object, expressed throughout the investigation. All this contributed to the exit of the disciplinary dominions, a search for the methodological further than the methodology anchored and recurrent in the institution generating a discovery of knowledge and ways unspecialized in the comprehension of the processes of art.

If on one side the institutionalization of Cuban culture had conditioned the emergence of processes and cultural phenomenons in order of a clear, excessively divorced political identity; the eruption of this new generation of creators came to question character, nature, identity and finality of this institution, as well as its territorial and conceptual extensions; if the latter exist as entities.

This «litigating relationality» created a conflict which tensed relations between the creators of visual art although not limited to it and the political institution, expressed by the culture.

A space of apparent «dissolution», «dissociation» or «reconciliation»? returns unexpectedly trying to acclimatize visible conflict from the institutional political-culture. Perhaps one of the first signs that began to appear was precisely the understanding, but above all, the problematization in terms of what is considered contemporaneity in Cuban art. How contemporary is contemporary art? This quandary came to underline the natural transitive in the comprehension of the phenomenon of Cuban art. One would have to immediately highlight the performativity associated with this process. What is certain is that many times the search for conciliatory stances did not necessarily implicate an integrative effort, if not better an effort to dissolve a conflict expressed in and from, emerging symbolic practices.

When the conflict escalates to the public sphere in the nineteen eighties, what comes to make itself evident is its genealogical character and endogenous; once recognised in the guidelines of a political culture. This, as other processes associated with dogmatism, the simulations, the dithyrambs, the silence, the fatigue, the hope, the absurd, the turbulence, the accomplice, the pseudo-affects, the companionship, the twisted grimace in the askance look, the party, the banter, the coffee with expiatory motives, the yes I see you but I don’t say hello, the snide remark disguised by the wide smile, the I was there, you weren’t, the yes we can, the I don’t know what you mean, the it won’t happen again, the forgotten and a long etcetera, was the magnetic center of this conflict climaxed in the emblematic baseball game on the 24th September (The day of the Virgen of Mercedes-Obatalá) 1989.

The deployment of this political culture came to be associated with a silencing and ostracism, solutions which like black holes consumed the protagonists of this change; generating an exile of extraordinary magnitude in Cuban art.

Whether we like it or not, this context generated an identity crisis brought about by a radical rupture. A weakening between two comprehensions around character, nature and finality not only of art if not also of its institutionalism, constitution and contribution to the arrival of a reformed criteria of the contemporary in Cuban art, unassociated with this institutionalism.

IV

It is commonplace to think of art as a space meaning is generated; nevertheless, this meaning is generated from the capacity and astuteness of the creator to socialize a symbolic product. The criteria for renovation concerning most contemporary Cuban art, has not been echoed by the establishment in regard to this socialization. It is not coincidence that from this perplexity that many artists go ill-advised into these complex territories and leave daunted confronted with such an illusive spectacle.

This whole process set in the nineteen eighties, exploding the fragile structures which lay in a solidity only evident to the institutions themselves.

The generations successive to this moment of inflection, would make the change their own, further recognizing this from their own institutional framework. An abundance of imagination and production, would inundate the artistic landscape. These transformations could no longer be avoided. The dominions of art began to take on matters relative to logics and structures. Making the symbolic production their own like never before an uncomplacent analytical exercise. These exercises reclaimed unsuspected knowledge, knowledge that was ready to be put into dialogue. At the same time, the production in the field of visual arts reclaimed unmarked theoretical sites. These elements would take the academy by surprize, bloated from ingestion, stagnated in a calcined, exact knowledge, trying to look set in their ways losing sight of the terrestrial.

The successive generation of visual creators after the nineteen eighties The Great Laboratory of Cuban art assume an indignation and heuristic which concentrate on methodologies that reason in parallel times and in possible scenarios, relative questioning of the logical structure of the constitution of artworks, as with their linguistic capacities or their best or worst disposition to take regarding empirical control. These are only a few of the elements of this new scene, a narrative where the relational, the phenomenal somewhat underground and the contextual, constitute appealing incites which mobilize a consumed practice. Whereby, these assertions generate a different comprehension of the space in which the artworks are exhibited. The «Gallery» in the lax sense, stops being a chromatic space and gives way to other morphologies, of grandeur or simplicity.

V

It was under this context where from CdeCuba Cuba: Cuban Art Magazine appeared. A review which without trying to solve the complex riddle and unlock the door procured, with a transgressive eye, to open a door fissured in silence. In this sense, one can be rationally absolute perhaps this issue touched a nerve but from my understanding, throughout the history of serialized publications, specializing in Cuban art; I could count on one hand those with a criteria as rigorous validating an editorial exercise of transcendental character. I must say that no other specialised art review has accomplished as CdeCuba: Cuban Art Magazine has, in taking the pulse of what is occurring in the territorialities of the most contemporary Cuban art.

When today the production of art has acquired dimensions further than the mechanical reproduction of which Benjamin spoke. When there is so much performance and flirtation in contemporary Cuban art. When boxers for unsuspected reasons feel creditors of an artist talent. When ex-ministers of foreign relations show off their skills and abilities. When others make concessions to get onto the TV. While some are terrified of not being up-to-date with trends. When chaos and indulgence take many captive. When a nation bleeds in shivering exodus witnessed by those accommodated and contemplative in the landscape, where the day to day lacks relevance. It takes a huge force to break through. Without doubt, CdeCuba Cuba: Cuban Art Magazine has been for many Cuban artists a logbook, outside of and within the island.

Without doubt, CdeCuba Cuba: Cuban Art Magazine was arguably established from an archaeology of the ego in the construction of the dramaturgy of each of its editions; creating a participative and plural space, one of conjunction and ambiguity. CdeCuba Cuba is the hourglass, inducing the deserts of time. It is a force that «dissolves» into multiple identities to dissuade agony to cease to be, further than the geometry of Tlön.

CdeCuba: Cuban Art Magazine is the confluent space of a generation, once broken by a metaphysical bias which has dominated the Cuban art scene since its political institutionalism.

Refusing to succumb in a nomological space, CdeCuba with a sly, transfigured grin reminiscent of The Cheshire Cat’s. Irreducible space, CdeCuba breaks through, shining light on what is; a space of infinite possibilities.

The snake with its seducitive contortions, bit its own tail and devoured itself.