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Art of behavior: Pedagogical project from the arts. Part 2
by Magaly Espinosa

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Read Art of Behaviour... Part 1

Comments on a few works: The Artist as a Producer of Cultural Meaning.

"Art should focus on the real, albeit questioning all conceptions of what is real. It turns all reality into a façade, a representation, and a construction. But it also questions the why of that construction."
-Mike Kelley

Since it is difficult to present the artistic results of all those who have taken the course or are currently enrolled in it, perhaps the best approach would be to group them into two main trends the media to which they often resort to in their works, such as different kinds of installation, performance and video. From there we can focus on some of the most important works or projects that help to explain the broad spectrum they cover, stemming from the main creative lines developed since the 80s.

One of the most prominent bodies of work in what is becoming known as the social incorporation of art pertains to the work of Luis Gçrciga and Miguel Moya. Their actions and interventions focus on social issues, but the most prominent aspect of the process of executing the works is not so much the outcome of sociological research, which is generally limited to establishing the spatial and temporal parameters in which the action takes part, but the possibilities that this process provides for the context in which this is manifested.

One of their most interesting pieces is Reporte de Ilusiones [Report on Hopes] (2003-2004), which began by offering people who live near the Visual Arts Development Center in Old Havana (where the course's work was subsequently exhibited) "a home-delivery photographic service where customers could change their photographs as they wished - by incorporating family members who, for one reason or another - exile, death, or estranged relatives with whom they wanted reconcile- were not in their midst. The idea was to make physical changes to the place that was photographed, incorporate public figures, artists, politicians, thinkers, etc."

As with some of their other works, this piece took shape as it was being done. Each stage determined the next: the first was a meeting between the artists and the neighborhood customers to find out who wanted to be photographed, get to know their wishes and take the photos. The next was to work on the photos digitally, manipulating them in keeping with the their wishes to create a portrait of the subjects in which they appeared with the changes they had requested. The final stage was to print, frame and prepare the photos for delivery.

That manipulation gave rise to inquiries that bring to mind the procedures of syncretic cults based on faith in the power of an image. Faith and desire conjured up passions, dreams, nightmares, fears and hidden yearnings. As a reflective anticipation of reality, highly uncertain requests came to the fore. And perhaps their deepest meaning lies in witnessing the path they all open, as a testimony and memory of what we are: what better way to get to know a man than through his dreams?

Rafaela dreams of having a house in the country; Pavel wants the city of New York in the background of his photograph; Ramón Lorenzo wants to be a Hindu yogi; Ricardo yearns for a Toyota jeep, and Wada a sports medal; Marco, who lives in an eclectic, early 20th century building, imagines it fully repaired. The great majority of these requests were difficult to fulfill, since they existed in the space between utopia and hope.

In works of that kind, a critical perspective, much praised in the tradition of new Cuban art, is aired through its testimonial nature. Given the lack of documented events that reflect everyday conscience without institutional pressures, Luis and Miguel's actions bring us closer to the specter of the gaze that stems from daily life, that judges the most varied social events with a strong dose of humor and popular wisdom.

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