HAMLET LAVASTIDA: CULTURA PROFILÁCTICA
Hamlet Lavastida (b.1983 in Havana/Cuba, lives and works in Havana) works with posters, prints, collages, photos and videos. His work, in the sense of representative archaeology, arose from the need to create an objective criterion for certain hidden areas of the implementation, administration and functioning of state political practices in Cuba.
Central to Lavastida’s artistic practice is the re-appropriation of texts, images and symbols, as well as political speeches and ideological terminologies, which he questions critically within the framework of his work. The relevant factor is their reinterpretation using the same or a similar format to that in which they were originally created.
His current solo exhibition at Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin), Cultura Profiláctica, makes use of this term from the health sector, which he believes has revealed numerous structures of a prophylactic culture during the pandemic, not only in his country of origin, Cuba, but worldwide.
Lavastida is showing two large installations made of paper cuts on opposite walls. On one side, the transcription of Javier Caso’s interrogation (from 2020), which went viral, is linked to a letter by the poet Heberto Padilla, written to the revolutionary government in 1971. Caso, a photographer based in the United States with Cuban roots, was interrogated by the Cuban security authorities due to his friendly relationship with independent filmmaker Miguel Coyula and actress Lynn Cruz, whose documentary Nadie circulated in international media but was censored in Cuba because of its critical position towards socialism.
The name Heberto Padilla also represents an historical caesura in the perception of the Castro regime in Cuba during the 1960s and 70s, which dealt harshly with the criticism and dissent expressed in Padilla’s later poems. Under pressure, Padilla was forced to distance himself from his own statements, committed to the Castro government and was only able to correct this years later. For many left-wing political intellectuals in Latin America and Europe, the «Padilla Affair» meant the end of their support for the Cuban revolution.
On the opposite wall, the artist displays a compiled archive of various iconographic and linguistic testimonies from the period in which the institutionalisation of socialism took place in Cuba, especially between the 1960s and 80s. Their installation on the wall is reminiscent of artistic-propagandistic designs in public space, as known from socialist Cuba, mounted on the wall with the help of stencils.
Through his personal confrontation with the cultural archives, which are not recognised as such within Cuban society, Lavastida creates a register and demands a critical examination of Cuban history. In doing so, he criticises the lack of education and memory work in the social system of today’s Cuba.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue including a text by Coco Fusco and Iván de la Nuez.
HAMLET LAVASTIDA: CULTURA PROFILÁCTICA
Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Kottbusser Straße 10, Berlin
16.04. – 24.05.2021
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