The installation displays a look at history, reflecting on events from the late 19th Century and up to the present. The bulk of the episodes and characters that are addressed can be associated with the Cold War and post-Cold War periods and with events – mostly in Europe, Latin America and North America – that have defined the second half of the 20th Century and the beginning of the current Century. The installation links certain developments in late-19th Century history, such as the Cuban – Spanish – American War of 1898, with everything that unfolded later, not only in Cuba and the Caribbean but also in Europe and the Americas. The way in which the biographies and the intellectual work of Karl Marx, José Martí, V. I. Lenin, Vladimir Mayakovski, Antonio Gramsci, Yuri Gagarin, Mikhail Gorbachev et al can be seeing as converging over Cuba is emphasized to create an artistic fabric that uses documents and fiction, historical data and speculation in order to rewrite history and to present it as a personal narrative of sorts. Overall, this is a proposal that looks at global developments in history from a local and personal vantage point.
The display includes drawings, mixed media works on paper and canvas, artists’ books, and sound. There are two artists’ books, each one with its own soundtrack. These tracks of electronic music have been created in collaboration with Bob Turner, a Vancouver-based musician. Headphones are provided, so that the audience has access to the sound component of the piece.
The book Taking Comfort. Insightful Wisdom from the Financial Papers of A.G. Muskeet (2010 – 2014) presents fragments of the work of the fictional character A. G. Muskeet, who is introduced as the first financial advisor that signed on to an official position in the revolutionary government formed in Cuba in 1959, after Fulgencio Batista fled the country and Fidel Castro and his guerrilla army took power in Havana.
The book Heroes of Baikonur is conceived as a collection of images – drawings, collages, photos, diagrams – and texts that refer to the space race and to the “Cuban Space Program”, in the context of some of the well-known space programs developed by the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union since the 1950s. In this work, the autobiographical, the fictional and the documentary are blended without distinction.
The series Dispatches from the War Zone – which was the basis for an artists’ book of the same title – is a look at history starting in the late 19th Century with the collision of and old empire (Spain) and a younger one (U.S.A.) in the Caribbean, and continuing with the influence of Communist ideology and of the Soviet Union in the shaping of the Cuban nation throughout the 20th Century.
The works that deal with the history and the economy of the Cold War are tied with the Blurred [Borroso] Series (2009-2016). This series, represented here by a few drawings and a painting on canvas, alludes to very obvious aspects of one of the most recent international financial crisis, with its profound repercussions on the global economy.
Overall, this project is a continuation of a number of works that I have created since the early 1980s, thinking of history as a source of inspiration. More recently I have dedicated entire one-person exhibitions to reflect on particular chapters of late 20th Century history, like the space race and its central placement in the Cold War strategies of the two main military blocs. (Statement by the artist, Vancouver, 2016).