Art Exhibition—“Sights and Sounds: Cuba”


“Sights and Sounds: Cuba” is an exhibition that begins today (June 26 – July 30, 2015) at the Jewish Museum in New York City. Curated by Mailyn Machado, “Sights and Sounds: Cuba” features new work by Sandra Ramos, Diana Montero, Reynier Leyva Novo, and Vanessa Portieles and Yanelvis González. The Jewish Museum is located at 109 5th Avenue at 92nd Street, New York, New York.

Curator Mailyn Machado writes:

This selection of videos by Cuban artists living in Cuba and Florida focuses on a prominent issue in the island’s modern history: the challenge of staying or leaving, and the cultural and social effects of that dilemma. Cuba was long defined as a society that received immigrants; that changed with the Revolution of 1959. Waves of emigration throughout the last half-century have become a familiar, and highly politicized, phenomenon. Until a very recent change in the law, emigration was a permanent one-way trip.

A second large influence on recent art was the severe economic crisis of the 1990s, which undermined public confidence in the Revolution and its legacy. The family was at the epicenter of individual response to this problem (and hence is a frequent subject of video artists); emigration was now seen not as a political statement but a personal choice. Equally significant was the rise of an underground economy that sustained the country.

The social bonds produced by these changes, as well as uneven access to new technologies, have caused new networks and communities to develop among Cubans both at home and abroad, forming a complex new cultural geography. The four videos seen here are, in a sense, a barometer of these social shifts. Video is especially well-adapted to this role; in Cuba, in order to evade the state monopoly on media, it has become a person-to-person medium, a conduit between the audience and reality, a record of fragments of life that flows from hand to hand, from computer to computer, unofficially.

Mailyn Machado (b. Havana, 1976) is an art and media critic and curator. She has organized exhibitions for the Museum of Fine Arts, Havana, the Havana Biennial, and the Cultural Centers of Spain in America, among other institutions. She is the chief editor of the magazine La Gaceta de Cuba. Her writing has appeared in Cuban and foreign publications. Machado earned a degree in art history from the University of Havana in 2001 and completed postgraduate studies in art criticism at Gerona University, Spain, in 2006.

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