‘Cuba: Art of the Special Period’ Friday, April 24 4PM


ECONOMIC CONTEXT:“Cuba’s Economic Adjustment in the early 90s”
Mario González-Corzo, Lehman College, CUNY

“Resetting the Clock of Revolutionary Time: Some Films Contemplating the ‘Special Period'”
Jerry W. Carlson, Graduate Center and City College, CUNY

The Cuban Revolution of 1959 made many promises, but if they could be condensed into one formulation it would be the promise of “a future.” All Cubans would join in the march forward in time to a socialist future of equality and communal prosperity. To be sure, the first thirty years of the revolution followed a twisting path rather than an expressway toward that future. However, the fall of the Soviet Union and the subsequent withdrawal of Cuba’s economic safety net from its communist allies created a crisis beyond extreme material hardship. The so called Special Period fomented a crisis in the nature of revolutionary time. Jerry will explore the ways in which films made during and about the Special Period portray the experience of time without any hope of a revolutionary future, despite official proclamations to the contrary. Among the films under consideration might by Suite Habana by Fernando Perez, Los dioses rotos by Ernesto Daranas, and Melaza by Carlos Lechuga.

“Contact Zones: Cuban Art and Institutions under the Special Period”
Ernesto Menéndez-Conde, LaGuardia Community College

Ernesto will discuss the ‘contact zones’ between artists and institutions during the Special period, focusing on three main challenges faced by Cuban artists: 1) The problem of the social function or art, an unresolved conflict posited by young artists in their confrontations with institutions during the late eighties; 2) the need for finding a space in the international art market; and 3) the need of conciliating new artistic trends and contemporary aesthetic debates within the new context of economic crisis and widespread skepticism towards both the future of socialism and the historical leadership of the Cuban Revolution.

“Cuestionando la utopia”
Iliana Cepero, New York University

Iliana will approach the documentary and conceptual photographic practices of 1990s Cuba through the work of Ramón Pacheco, Cristóbal Herrera, Ricardo G. Elías, Carlos Garaicoa, Manuel Piña, among others. Cuban photographers of those years used the camera as a critical tool to document the malaise of the society at the time, pervaded by scarcity, hopelessness and isolation. They foregrounded social issues that have been considered taboo in previous decades, such as poverty, racism, and migration. The urban landscape was approached as an archaeological ruin that expressed the conflict between political failure and architectural utopia. Photographic images from the Special Period also set to deconstruct post-revolutionary national history through the questioning of the photographic tradition of the so-called epic photography of the 1960s.

Moderator: Ana María Hernández, LaGuardia Community College

TO REGISTER send an e-mail to bildner@gc.cuny.edu.

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