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States of Exchange: Artists from Cuba [uk London]

iniva.jpgStates of Exchange: Artists from CubaIván Capote, Yoan Capote, Jeanette Chávez, Diana Fonseca, Wilfredo Prieto and Lázaro Saavedra :: January 23 – March 22, 2008 :: Iniva, Rivington Place, London :: Curated by Gerardo Mosquera and Cylena Simonds.

States of Exchange: Artists from Cuba provides a dynamic and thought-provoking exploration of the complexities of economic and information exchange in contemporary Cuba. At a time when borderless communication is assumed to be the global norm, Cuba is a country caught in flux. With two legal currencies, minimal internet access, and divisions between those who can and can’t access external resources, the residents of Cuba have become experts at negotiating the complexities of exchange between each other and the world.

Curated by Cylena Simonds (Iniva) and prominent Cuban curator Gerardo Mosquera, the group show focuses on six artists living and working in Cuba today. Their work offers a witty and provocative response to scarcity and constraint, raising issues of global relevance. The artworks range from sculpture and performance to video installation, plus an extensive video screening programme featuring shorts and experimental documentaries by over 14 artists, including works never before seen in Europe.

Co-curator, Gerardo Mosquera says: ‘States of Exchange aims to show how artists in Cuba discuss contradictions, ambiguities and social negotiations in Cuban life, leading a critical culture that prevails in the country since the mid 80s. They use the semantic powers of art to create complex works whose impact goes far beyond the local context. So this is not a general show of Cuban art but a thematic exhibition on issues particular to Cuba. It includes both emerging artists that are beginning to be known internationally and more established ones.

Works include:

Cuba’s complex system of economic exchange is summarised in Yoan Capote’s work Dinero Bilingüe (Bilingual Money, 2002), which splices together a peso with a US quarter – rendering both coins defunct. An elusive grasp of currency is also key to the video Pasatiempo (Dinero) (Pastime (Money), 2005) by Diana Fonseca in which two peso coins suddenly vanish leaving a dark stain on the artist’s hands.

Themes of censorship are explored in Jeannette Chávez’s video performance, Autocensura (Self-censorship, 2006), she painfully ties thread around her tongue and closes her lips, her self-inflicted silence becoming invisible. In Secreter (2000) Iván and Yoan Capote collaborate to create a means to share secrets via a giant rudimentary telephone reminiscent of a handmade children’s toy. In Wilfredo Prieto’s installation Speech (1999) we see rolls of toilet paper made entirely from Cuba’s official newspaper, Granma.

Using red beans to represent people, Lázaro Saavedra’s video animations La gloria borra la memoria (Glory erases memory, 2006) and El que no sabe es como el que no ve (Not knowing is like not seeing, 2006) succinctly dramatise the tension between the official representations of life in Cuba and the actual experiences of Cubans. A sense of dreaming and longing is evoked in Cambio de Estado (Change of State, 2006) in which Chávez covers a ceiling with starred military epaulettes to create constellations reflecting the night sky of the area in which the work is displayed.

Accompanying the exhibition there is a full-colour bilingual catalogue. There is also a lively education and events programme including music, talks by the curators’ and discussions with artists.

States of Exchange: Artists from Cuba is an Iniva exhibition at Rivington Place in Barclays Project Space and Project Space 2. The project has been realised with thanks to Arts Council England.


Jan 16, 14:06
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