TRANSHUMANCE: Beyond Cuban horizons – April – June 2016

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Alejandro Campins, Roberto Diago, Diana Fonseca, Carlos Garaicoa, Diango Harnàndez, Inti Hernandez, Reynier Leyva Novo, Yornel Martinez, Ana Mendieta, Wifredo Prieto, José Yaque.

The CAB is pleased to announce its new exhibition, Transhumance: reflecting on the confrontation between the metamorphosis of habitat and the extraordinary contemporary mobility.

The idea of a fixed home, a physical location as a reflection of our identity, is evolving. Nowadays, our habitat stretches beyond its stable physical and psychological forms, to acquire the symbolic figure of transhumance. Deep down, the idea of a migrant habitat is nevertheless still a paradox, the consequences of which is the subject matter of this exhibition. Cuba is the point of intersection between the eleven guest artists. Some of them live there, others originally did. In their own way, they each reveal the historic specificities of Cuban society and culture.

In their effort to deconstruct the living place,
Yornel Martínez and Wilfredo Prieto expand their multidisciplinary practices and sometimes end up negating it altogether. Martínez crumples up a world map, undoing the current geopolitical order by this simple act. By provoking a water leak within the CAB, Prieto in turn opens a reflection on the porosity of a system that can constantly be put into question. The title of this work, Lágrimas de cocodrilo, suggests a certain detachment from the facts that are denounced.

Roberto Diago and Ana Mendieta have a go at the link between artistic creation, body and habitat. In Diago’s sculptures, welded roofing sheets act as metaphorical reminders of scars. Mendieta’s Silueta series offers a chiasm between the landscape and her own female body, nullifying the boundaries between body art and land art.

Other artists in the exhibition shake up the spaces of living or transit in a laboratory. They give a new interpretation of reality, in the case of
Carlos Garaicoa by using a variety photo mediums and supports; or Diana Fonseca, with paintings composed of materials collected from the walls of disused houses in Havana; or also
Alejandro Campins, who finds his inspiration in evolving and abandoned landscapes, in Cuba or elsewhere.

“Transhumance” also includes works created specifically for the exhibition. Inti Hernandez will recreate the floor of his home, physically summoning his intimate space and showing the sophistication of Cuban patterns. In turn,
José Yaque will take over the CAB, appropriating objects linked to its history and reassembling them in the shape of a tornado.

Lastly, Diango Hernández and
Reyner Leyva Novo rely on codification systems of a social discourse to create new spaces, where the reference point becomes invisible. Hernández makes a troubling association between a replica of the windows in his residence in Düsseldorf and a hyper-codified speech by Fidel Castro; while Novo focuses on the laws that rule Cuban life since 1959, which he transcribes in the shape of enigmatic black monochromes.

It is noteworthy that the link between the participants in “Transhumance” is to be found in their hybrid artistic approach. By integrating education, community leadership, multidisciplinary research and writing into their practices, they push the limits of artistic production, traditionally confined to studios. This give rise to a distinctly Cuban approach, based on practices that are genuine and profoundly rooted at the intersection of art and life.

In a world more than ever faced with modern mobility, but too often also with forced exile, Brussels, at the heart of the old continent, deeply European, fluid and solid, a space whose community identity is in constant mutation, constitutes the ideal background to present this unusual portrait of Cuba and its artists.

“Transhumance” was curated by Sara Alonso Gómez, who examines the different dialogue platforms in contemporary artistic creation between Latin America and Europe, in partnership with Éléonore de Sadeleer, director of the CAB.

Le CAB a le plaisir de vous annoncer sa nouvelle exposition intitulée « Transhumance »: une réflexion autour de la métamorphose de l’habitat confronté à une mobilité inhabituelle et contemporaine.

L’idée d’un foyer fixe, comme lieu physique qui serait le reflet de notre identité, évolue. Aujourd’hui, l’habitat dépasse ses formes physiques et psychiques stables et en vient à prendre symboliquement la figure de la transhumance. Cependant, l’idée d’un habitat migrant garde quelque chose de profondément paradoxal et cette exposition s’attache à en explorer les conséquences. Cuba est le point d’intersection des onze artistes invités, certains y vivent, d’autres en sont originaires. Chacun à leur manière, ils révèlent les particularités de l’histoire de la société et de la culture cubaine.

En élargissant leurs pratiques multidisciplinaires à la recherche de la déconstruction du lieu, Yornel Martínez et Wilfredo Prieto tendent parfois à la négation totale de celui-ci. Martínez, réduit en boule une carte du monde et, par ce simple geste, défait la distribution géopolitique actuelle. Prieto provoque une fuite d’eau dans l’espace du CAB, et opère par là une réflexion sur la porosité d’un système qui peut en permanence être remis en question. Le titre de l’œuvre, Lágrimas de cocodrilo, évoque une certaine ironie par rapport au fait dénoncé.

Roberto Diago et Ana Mendieta analysent le lien entre la création artistique, le corps et l’habitat. Dans les sculptures de Diago, les soudures des tôles de toits de maisons renvoient métaphoriquement à des cicatrices. Au travers de sa série Silueta, Mendieta propose un chiasme engagé entre le paysage et son propre corps féminin, annulant ainsi les frontières entre body art et land art.

D’autres artistes, présents dans l’exposition, bouleversent l’espace de vie ou de transit en laboratoire. Ils réinterprètent la réalité, comme Carlos Garaicoa, avec ses photos aux supports et médiums différents ; ou comme Diana Fonseca, avec ses peintures composées de fragments de matières récupérées sur les murs de maisons désaffectées de la Havane, ou encore comme Alejandro Campins, qui s’inspire des paysages en mutation et abandonnés, à Cuba ou ailleurs.

« Transhumance » comprend également des œuvres créées spécialement pour l’exposition. Inti Hernandez reproduit à l’identique le sol de sa maison natale ; il invoque ainsi physiquement sa sphère intime, tout en révélant la sophistication des motifs cubains. De son côté, José Yaque investira le CAB, en s’appropriant des objets trouvé à Bruxelles, pour les assembler chaotiquement sous la forme d’une tornade.

Enfin, Diango Hernández et Reyner Leyva Novo, en se basant sur des systèmes de codification du discours politique, créent des espaces autres où le référent devient illisible. Hernández, opère une association troublante entre les répliques des fenêtres de sa résidence à Düsseldorf et un discours hyper-codifié de Fidel Castro ; Novo, quant à lui, s’attache à observer les lois qui règlent la vie cubaine depuis 1959, qu’il retranscrit sous forme d’énigmatiques monochromes noirs.

Les artistes participants à « Transhumance » se rejoignent dans leur démarche artistique hybride. En synthétisant leurs pratiques d’écriture, d’enseignement, de leadership communautaire, et de recherche multidisciplinaire, ils repoussent les limites de la production artistique classiquement cantonnée aux studios. Apparaît alors, une démarche typique et propre à Cuba ; une attitude sincère et profondément ancrée à l’intersection de l’art et de la vie.

Dans un monde confronté plus que jamais à une mobilité effrénée mais également, trop souvent encore, à l’exil forcé, Bruxelles, ville centrale du vieux continent, profondément européenne, fluide et solide, espace dont l’identité communautaire est en perpétuelle mutation, constitue le contexte idéal pour présenter ce portrait hors du commun de Cuba et de ses artistes.

« Transhumance » a été conçue par la curatrice Sara Alonso Gómez, qui interroge les différentes plateformes de dialogue dans la création artistique contemporaine entre l’Amérique latine et l’Europe, en collaboration avec Éléonore de Sadeleer, directrice du CAB.

Het CAB heeft het genoegen zijn nieuwe tentoonstelling Transhumance aan te kondigen: een bezinning rond de metamorfose van de woonvorm in confrontatie met een ongewone en hedendaagse mobiliteit.

De idee van een vaste haard als een fysieke plek, die de weerspiegeling zou zijn van onze identiteit, evolueert. Vandaag overschrijdt de woonruimte haar stabiele fysieke en psychische kenmerken en begint ze symbolisch de vorm te krijgen van de ‘transhumance’. De idee van een migrerende woonplaats blijft evenwel diep paradoxaal, en deze tentoonstelling heeft tot doel de gevolgen ervan te verkennen. Cuba is de gemeenschappelijke noemer voor de elf uitgenodigde kunstenaars. Sommigen leven er, anderen zijn afkomstig van daar. Elk van hen onthult op eigen wijze de bijzonderheden van de geschiedenis van de Cubaanse maatschappij en cultuur.

Door hun multidisciplinaire praktijken uit te breiden in hun zoektocht naar de deconstructie van de plaats, gaan Yornel Martínez en Wilfredo Prieto bijna tot complete ontkenning ervan. Martínez verfrommelt een wereldkaart en doet, door die eenvoudige handeling, de huidige geopolitieke spreiding uiteenvallen. Door een waterlek te veroorzaken in het CAB nodigt Prieto van zijn kant uit tot een reflectie over de poreusheid van een systeem dat permanent in vraag kan worden gesteld.De titel van dit werk, Lágrimas de cocodrilo, suggereert een zekere losheid ten opzichte van het aangebrachte feit.

Roberto Diago en Ana Mendieta onderzoeken de band tussen de artistieke creatie, het lichaam en de woonvorm. Bij de sculpturen van Diago verwijzen de gelaste dakplaten van huizen op metaforische wijze naar littekens. In haar reeks Siluetastelt Mendieta een chiasme voor tussen het landschap en haar eigen vrouwenlichaam, waardoor de grenzen tussen body art en land art volledig verdwijnen.

Andere kunstenaars die ook aanwezig zijn op de tentoonstelling halen de levensruimte of transit in laboratorium volledig overhoop. Ze herinterpreteren de realiteit, zoals
Carlos Garaicoa via zijn foto’s met diverse dragers en media ; of Diana Fonseca met haar schilderijen die zijn samengesteld uit brokstukken die ze van de muren van verlaten huizen in Havana heeft gehaald, of nog Alejandro Campins, die zijn inspiratie haalt uit veranderende en desolate landschappen die hem omringen, in Cuba of elders.

“Transhumance” omvat ook werken die speciaal voor de tentoonstelling werden gecreëerd. Inti Hernandez zal een replica van de vloer van zijn huis komen maken en aldus de intieme sfeer fysiek oproepen terwijl hij de finesse van de Cubaanse motieven tentoonstelt. José Yaque van zijn kant zal het CAB inpalmen door zich de voorwerpen toe te eigenen die verband houden met zijn geschiedenis om ze daarna chaotisch te assembleren in de vorm van een tornado.

Tot slot creëren Diango Hernández en Reynier Leyva Novo, door zich te baseren op codificatiesystemen van een sociaal discours, ruimtes die anders zijn en waar de referent onleesbaar wordt. Hernández maakt een verontrustende associatie tussen de replieken van de ramen van zijn residentie in Düsseldorf en een hyper gecodificeerde toespraak van Fidel Castro. Novo van zijn kant legt zich toe op de analyse van wetten die het Cubaanse leven regelen sinds 1959 en schrijft ze over in de vorm van zwarte, raadselachtige monochrome creaties.

Er valt op te merken dat de band tussen de deelnemende artiesten van “Transhumance” te vinden is in hun hybride artistieke aanpak. Door in hun werkwijze het onderwijs, het communautaire leadership, het multidisciplinair onderzoek en het schrijven te integreren, verschuiven ze de grenzen van de artistieke productie die traditioneel binnen de studio’s blijft. Zo komt er een aanpak tot stand die volledig eigen is aan Cuba ; een actie die zich toespitst op een praktijk, eerlijk en diep verankerd in het kruispunt tussen kunst en leven.

In een wereld die meer dan ooit geconfronteerd wordt met een hedendaagse mobiliteit, maar ook al te vaak met gedwongen ballingschap, vormt Brussel, centraal gelegen stad in het oude continent, door en door Europees, vlot en sterk, een ruimte waar de communautaire identiteit gestaag in verandering is, de ideale context voor dit buitengewoon portret van Cuba en zijn kunstenaars.

“Transhumance” werd bedacht door de curatrice Sara Alonso Gómez, die de verschillende dialoogplatformen in de hedendaagse artistieke creatie tussen Latijns-Amerika en Europa onderzoekt, en dit in samenwerking met Éléonore de Sadeleer, directrice van het CAB.


ALEJANDRO CAMPINS
PAINTING

BORN IN 1981 – LIVES AND WORKS IN HAVANA
He has become well known for his mastery of large-scale paintings through the creation of hauntingly evocative works that occupy a metaphysical space between reality and fiction. His artworks sometimes present a disrupted relation between the depicted objects and their surroundings, in an atmosphere that is quiet and still. His paintings can be understood as metaphors that capture the experience of meditation.

Alejandro Campins – Nap, 2016 – Oil on canvas, 180 x 240 cm


CARLOS GARAICOA
PHOTOGRAPHIES

BORN IN 1967 – LIVES AND WORKS IN HAVANA AND MADRID
Since the early 1990s, he has used photography, performance, drawing, sculpture, installation, text, and video to comment on architecture’s reflection of and effect on the political, economic, and cultural reality of the contemporary world. Through the study of architecture, city planning, the writing of history, and the tradition of aesthetic forms as language, his work articulates propositions of cultural criticism in which a debate emerges about the functions of the artistic gesture and of the role of intellectuals and artists as social agents in the public sphere.
Through his photographic works printed on pieces of bone, Garaicoa explores the arteries of several contemporary cities through a documentary lens, and creates images of aged and ruined places that bear witness to the passage of time and the cities’ process of decay. In printing his images on piece of bovine bone, the support ends up being the proof of the animal’s existence, even after the rest of its physical body has decomposed.

Carlos Garaicoa – Calle Calzada entre Paseo y Calle 2 2012, Havana – Pigment print on gelatin coated bone, 12 x 15 cm


ROBERTO DIAGO
INSTALLATION

BORN IN 1971 – LIVES AND WORKS IN HAVANA
Diago explores this thematic through his work. By creating a visual illusion of scarring on the surfaces of recycled metal domestic water tanks, Huella en la Memoria (Imprint in the Memory) reflects on the still open wounds of the human tragedy created by the transatlantic slave trade and the imprint it has left on Cuban culture and collective memory.
His language and methodology could be compared to Italian Arte Povera, but his intention is less a formal exploration or a reaction against established modes of artistic production promoted by the market, than it is a necessity to use ephemeral or recycled materials. His practice is heavily influenced by the scarcity experienced in Cuba during the so-called Special Period, the economic crisis of the 1990s.

Roberto Diago – Memory Trace, 2015 – Installation, welded recycled metal Variable dimensions


DIANA FONSECA
PAINTING

BORN IN 1971 – LIVES AND WORKS IN HAVANA
Diago explores this thematic through his work. By creating a visual illusion of scarring on the surfaces of recycled metal domestic water tanks, Huella en la Memoria (Imprint in the Memory) reflects on the still open wounds of the human tragedy created by the transatlantic slave trade and the imprint it has left on Cuban culture and collective memory.
His language and methodology could be compared to Italian Arte Povera, but his intention is less a formal exploration or a reaction against established modes of artistic production promoted by the market, than it is a necessity to use ephemeral or recycled materials. His practice is heavily influenced by the scarcity experienced in Cuba during the so-called Special Period, the economic crisis of the 1990s.

Diana Fonseca – Untitled, from the series Degradations, 2016 – Paint fragments mounted on wood, 100 x 100 cm


DIANGO HERNANDEZ
INSTALLATION

BORN IN 1970 – LIVES AND WORKS IN HAVANA AND DUSSELDORF
With his installations, assemblages, drawings, photographs, texts, and images, new alternative systems emerge, mapping the possibility of other territories to be understood and explored. During the last two years he has been working on a group of new works where he translates quotations using a font he created called Waves. All the characters in the font look the same; therefore, once the text is changed into his Waves font, what we see looks like a representation of waves in the ocean.
For “Transhumance,” Hernández developed a new work titled A view from my window, in which he creates a puzzling association between a replication of a window in his house in Düsseldorf and Fidel Castro’s speech at the Red Square in Moscow on April 28, 1963, much of which was devoted to thanking the Soviet Union for its military and economic aid to Cuba, just a few months after the Missile Crisis.

Diango Hernández – A view form my window, 2016 – Oil, wood and glass 120 x 234 cm – Produced by CAB


INTI HERNANDEZ
PERFORMANCE

BORN IN 1976 – LIVES AND WORKS IN HAVANA AND AMSTERDAM
The work of Inti Hernandez embraces an approach through which life is defined as a perpetual flow of energy. Disciplines such as architecture and industrial design are the pillars of his work, as is his understanding that these forms are interconnected with daily life. He sees art as a medium to create conversation and dialogue, and finds inspiration in the dreams, ideas, needs, priorities, and spontaneities of those who engage with his work.
In 2011, Hernandez reproduced his own tiled bedroom floor on El Prado’s sidewalk in Old Havana. It is still an ongoing process brought alive in many others locations. The work, titled Propia Iniciativa (Self/Proper Initiative), generates bewilderment and tension: lines of accumulated outdoor dust appear on an interior surface, while the chaos of public space finds a moment of domestic calm. Furthermore, the artist’s performance provokes interaction with the audience and provides a free pass to break down borders of intimacy and human communication. Beauty emerged regardless, proving its immanence despite challenging or difficult contexts.

Inti Hernandez – Self / Proper Initative, 2016 – Waterproof stencils, cleaning tools, water and dirt – Variable dimensions – Produced by CAB


REYNIER LEYVA NOVO
PRINTED PRESS INK

BORN IN 1983 – LIVES AND WORKS IN HAVANA
His works are often the result of joint efforts involving historians, cartographers, alchemists, botanists, musicians, designers, translators, and military strategists, brought together in an attempt to set into motion ideological mechanisms blocked by the rust and sediment that have accumulated over years of rigid national immobility.
Novo’s artistic process includes the use of different media such as video, photography, design, and installation. He developed INk, a software program for calculating the area, volume, and weight of the ink employed for manuscripts and printed documents. By transcribing the obtained data into black abstract compositions, he created several series dissolving the original content of the initial sources.
Nueve leyes focuses on a selection of the legislation adopted by the Cuban Revolution from its beginnings onwards, such as Law of Agrarian Reform, Law on Nationalization, Law of Urban Reform and Housing, among others.

Reynier Leyva Novo – 9 Laws, from the series The Weight of History, 2014 Printed press ink Variable dimensions Collection Pérez Art Museum, Miami, gift of Jorge M. and Darlene Pérez


YORNEL MARTINEZ
SQUEEZED WORLD MAP

BORN IN 1981 – LIVES AND WORKS IN HAVANA
He is a sharp observer of the present-day Cuban art scene and its complexities, but he is also an incredible researcher and oral chronicler. One could set his practice in between two semantic worlds: art and writing, with the borders that separate the two becoming at times nearly invisible. His sources are very diverse; from Cuban and international literature to French semiology and linguistics, and they also encompass Belgian Surrealism, American and European Conceptualism and post-Conceptualism, Relational Aesthetics, and Buddhism.
Martínez’ symbolic approach reconciles both gesture and recycling. He uses a large range of media such as drawing, painting, objects, installations, calligrams, and actions in public space. Language, in all its tautological variations, is also a recurrent element that completes meaning or drives us toward a way out. His works are imbued with a restless anima and a fundamental desire to understand history and art from a wider, more complex perspective.
In Trash, Martínez reduces a paper world map to a ball, symbolically and poetically questioning by his gesture the geopolitical distribution that appeared on a found atlas published in Cuba.

Yornel Martínez, Trash, 2013 – Squeezed world map, variable dimensions Unlimited edition


ANA MENDIETA
VIDEO

BORN IN 1948 – 1985
Born in Havana to a prominent political family,she was sent to the United States at the age of twelve, as part of an American government-sponsored program Operation Peter Pan. This operation, meant to “save children’s souls” from the Communist regime, removed and relocated thousands of Cuban children. The estrangement from her family and homeland would deeply influence her life and art.
Profoundly iconoclastic and autobiographical, Mendieta’s work focuses on themes including feminism, violence, life, death, spirituality, place, and belonging. She created a unique mode of sculpture derived from her solo performances that she documented with film and photography.
Her œuvre, collected under the title Earth Body engages with the histories of body art and land art. The work’s title underlines a fusion between her body and the natural loci. She describes her work as “grounded in the belief of one universal energy which runs through everything: from insect to man, from man to spectre, from spectre to plant from plant to galaxy. […] Through my Earth Body sculptures I become one with the earth… I become an extension of nature and nature becomes an extension of my body.” This profound desire runs through her film work Burial Pyramid, and her Silueta Series (1973–80), a series in which Mendieta created female silhouettes with natural materials ranging from leaves and twigs to blood, by making prints or painting the outline of her body onto a wall or within a landscape.

Ana Mendieta – Burial Pyramid, August 1974 Super-8mm film transferred to high-definition digital media, color, silent Running time: 3:17 minutes Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York


WILFREDO PRIETO
INSTALLATION

BORN IN 1978 – LIVES AND WORKS IN HAVANA
Prieto’s oeuvre is characterized by minimalism, sarcasm, and self-mockery. He uses a strategically restricted variety of materials together with a sharp sense of humor, making conscious and pointed use of comedy to satirical ends. As the artist himself regularly says: “Ideas exist in the real world, just like clouds. You can see them and catch them.” In a certain way, Prieto is pointing to the fact that everyone could do what he does.
Putting himself at a distance from the Duchampian readymade, Prieto prefers to classify his artworks as “found-meanings.” The iconoclastic gesture or object is no more—and no less—than a container of meaning, derived from everyday situations. He subtlety approaches themes like consumerism, national identity, value, and authenticity, and his work sometimes borders on the ludicrous. The sense of essentialism present in his work functions like a motto or proverb: a simple combination of words and elements that can be easily read. His artwork Lágrimas de Cocodrilo (Crocodile Tears) introduces itself as being an infrastructural problem—a leak in the CAB’s building structure—but on closer inspection turns out to be tears falling from the ceiling. The work can be seen as a personification of an architectural space.

Wilfredo Prieto – Crocodile Tears, 2011 Installation, Collyrium, variable dimensions Courtesy of the artist and Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam


JOSÉ YAQUE
INSTALLATION

BORN IN 1985 – LIVES AND WORKS IN HAVANA
He believes that there is an intimate relationship between art, individuals, and nature. In order to find new material for his paintings and installations, he proceeds as an archaeologist or, more accurately, as a geophysicist who digs for minerals. His paintings are explorations of a new formal dialectic: the colors are blended one into another, creating discontinuous lines that transform again when the artist wraps the work in plastic film. After removing the film, the result is an eroded painting, which could be compared to the traces the wind leaves on the Earth.
For “Transhumance” he realized Interior con Huracán (Interior with Hurricane), which evokes a hurricane that is surrounding and wrapping everything. He composed his artwork using domestic objects obtained after a public call or found in the city of Brussels. Yaque believes in the idea of collective experience, for which he is not the only storyteller; it is the audience who adds layers of interpretation by offering their own objects and completing the artwork. As a powerful natural force, the hurricane can be seen both in terms of the disaster it causes and the rebirth that occurs afterward.

José Yaque – Interior with Hurricane, 2016 Installation, Variable materials and dimensions Produced by CAB / Galleria Continua

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