Art Exhibition: Race and Racism in Cuban Contemporary Art (Queloides II)

The art exhibition Queloides/Keloids: Race and Racism in Cuban Contemporary Art is taking place at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where it will be on view from October 15, 2010 until February 27, 2011. The opening will be tonight, October 15, from 6:00 to 9:00pm. The Mattress Factory is located at 500 Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This exhibit has traveled from Cuba, where it was on view at the Wifredo Lam Center for Contemporary Art in Havana from April 16 to May 31, 2010 [see previous post Art Exhibition: Queloides/Keloids]. Participating artists are Pedro Álvarez, Manuel Arenas, Belkis Ayón, María Magdalena, Juan Roberto Diago, Alexis Esquivel, Armando Marino, Marta María Pérez, René Peña, Douglas Pérez, Elio Rodríguez, and José A. Toirac. It is curated by Alejandro de la Fuente and Elio Rodriguez Valdés.

Queloides/Keloids contributes to current debates about the persistence of racism in contemporary Cuba and elsewhere in the world. The twelve artists invited to participate are renowned for their critical work on issues of race, discrimination, and identity. Several of them collaborated in three important exhibits in Havana between 1997 and 1999 (titled “Keloids I”, “Keloids II”, and “Neither Musicians nor Athletes”). The last two were curated by the late Cuban art critic Ariel Ribeaux. “Keloids” are wound-induced, pathological scars. Although any wound may result in keloids, many people in Cuba believe that black skin is particularly susceptible to them. Thus the title evokes the persistence of racial stereotypes, on the one hand, and the traumatic process of dealing with racism, discrimination, and centuries of cultural conflict, on the other hand. Queloides/Keloids includes several art forms–paintings, photographs, installations, sculptures, videos–and offers novel ways to dismantle the so-called racial differences.

Relate activities include the Educator Open House and a Teacher Professional Development Workshop. The Open House takes place on Saturday, October 16, 2010, at 1:00-4:00pm, where teachers have the opportunity to view and tour Queloides, hear co-curator Alejandro de la Fuente speak about the process of organizing this show, and meet resident artists before they head back to Cuba. This free event requires pre-registration.

The Teacher Development Workshop, a hands-on, inquiry-based exploration of the art, artists, history, and contemporary politics of Cuba, takes place on Thursday evenings on October 21 & 28 and November 4 & 11, from 4:30 until 8:30pm. Throughout this four-part workshop, participants will meet co-curator Alejandro de la Fuente, work with Cuban artist María Magdalena Campos-Pons, develop lesson plans, and further their personal and academic understanding of Cuban life and art. Pre-registration required. The workshop costs $35 (includes dinner). For all activities you may call the Mattress Factory at (412) 231-3169 for details.

For Queloides, the Mattress Factory is again working in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh, in particular with the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS). Founded in 1964, CLAS develops and coordinates resources on Latin America and the Caribbean that contribute to training experts on the region through high quality programs of graduate and undergraduate education.

The Mattress Factory is a museum of contemporary art, founded in 1977, that provides a place and complete support for artists to take risks and explore new ideas. The museum’s primary concern is to enable each artist to exercise the creative process with as much freedom and support as possible. For emerging artists, this is often the catalyst that propels their work into the national limelight; and for well-established artists, a Mattress Factory residency provides the support they need to refresh their vision or take their work in new directions.

See “Queloides” introduction at http://www.queloides-exhibit.com/

For full description of the exhibition and the exhibition venues, see http://www.mattress.org/index.cfm?event=ShowExhibition&eid=96&c=Upcoming

See Alexis Esquivel Bermudez’ “Héroe poscolonial” and review of the Queloides II exhibition, at http://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/Pittsburgh-Magazine/October-2010/Cuban-Art-Makes-Waves/

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