Summer brought with
it to Havana a breathless cultural activity. Opening August 7,
1998, at the Centro Wilfredo Lam was the Women Beyond Borders
Exhibition, of special relevance in our aesthetic environment
and of great resonance at an international level. If my memory
serves me, I believe that this is the second cultural exchange
between our institution and the United States; the first took
place when we received an exhibition by North American artists
titled Contra el bloqueo (Against the Blockade)
Women beyond borders
is a project that exceeds its own expectations. It is a common
aspiration that extends beyond its own borders and stimulates
enriching interchange. It not only gathers art work from different
parts of the planet but also guarantees indestructible ties of
human emotion and respect. It is an infinite dream that stimulates
commitment to future proposals in an act of praiseworthy tribute.
Garcia Nuez - WBB artist in her studio
Lorraine Serena with Yamilys Brito,
Belkis AyŚn Manso and Jacqueline Brito,
WBB artists from Havana at opening of WBB
On this occasion the
WBB project is much more a reconciliation centered on the conflicts,
needs, aspirations, repercussions, etc., of feminine activity
in our environment. The project's intent not only puts the woman
artist at the forefront but also offers these artists a freedom
of choice as they approach different types of art--such as photography,
painting, sculpture, printmaking, and why not installation in
miniature--starting with a small pattern: a diminutive wood box,
which reactivated the ingenuity and talent of all the artists
who participated in this magnificent exhibition.
The diversity of Cuban
art today is encouraging, so that the Cuban artists shown here
demonstrate only some of the thematic directions or artistic paradigms.
They are striking to us for their spirit of renewal and their
ability to create works with the intention of explaining and implying
a series of truths that constitute the active element of their
In Cuba we have had
relevant figures among women artists not only in the visual arts
but also in literature. Some examples should be mentioned: Amelia
Pelaez was able to masterfully integrate the lessons of the European
avant-garde, to give to posterity magnificent canvases of Havana
interiors, showing all the richness and splendor of our colonial
architecture. Antonia Eiriz produces violently expressionist work,
possessed of a profound and passionate force, reflecting the drama
of the moment. Equally celebrated are the vindicating texts on
the liberties of women, the texts of Gertudis Gómez de
Avellaneda and the significant contributions of Vicentina Antuna,
Camila Henriquez Urena, and Lydia Cabrera to Latin American letters.
Able inheritors of
a tradition, Cuban women artists have known how to channel their
symbolic poetics in the issues that mark our tremulous times.
The Brito sisters,
despite their family relationship and its associated obligations,
maintain autonomy in their work. Yamilys Brito is a tireless printmaker,
who in spite of her youth must be mentioned for her contribution
to contemporary printmaking. Her personal chronicle or diary captures
the enchantments and the tastelessness of her city. Some significant
titles are: Callejón sin salida (Cul-de-sac), Via Crucis,
Al Final de la Calle (At the End of the Street), among others.
Ayon Manso, Mbori
Ayon Manso, Mbori
- WBB Artist/Canada, Lorraine Serena, and Magda Gonzales
curator at the Wifredo Lam Center and WBB curator,
Mora, WBB artist in her home in Havana.
Ceballos Obaya, Huir No Es Posible
Moreira Diaz, Untitled
Jacqueline Brito, with
her evocative painting, feels a special nostalgia for her surroundings
through a stratified process of personalization and a complex
cartographic system that revolves around the fabled real or recreated
fiction. Life is like theater, and in this piece we adopt different
postures all the time, our manner of behaving varies, adjusting
itself constantly to our interlocutor, the moment, the place,
even the climatic conditions can affect our reactions. The segmentation
of her paintings helps us to focus on certain aspects that interest
her, and in this way her work has to do with narrated stories,
books read, or personal experiences.
Sandra Ceballos. All
the garments used in hospitals serve her as a pretext for expressing
the chaotic world in which one finds the human being in urgent
need of help. She always maintains a feminist stance, a vanguard
stance that criticizes and erodes masculine virility in a socialist
society like ours. Her work is shocking, aggressive, without affectation,
of a moving purity. Paralleling her work as an artist, she directed
an alternative gallery known as Espacio Aglutinador, which carries
out excellent curatorial projects with Cuban and foreign artists.
Zaida del Río.
Her work takes us to another narrative dimension, which allows
us to make a fantastic voyage where elements of her personal life
constantly mingle with African myths and rural legends. In many
cases she herself is the protagonist; thus we see the figure of
Yemaya, crowned with a bird's head, reappearing like the trick
of a ghost that guides us in its passage.
She belongs to the
first generation of artists graduated from the Instituto Superior
de Arte. Endowed with excellent drawing skills, she also works
in ceramics, painting, and photography. The artist has noted that
for her any theme can provoke a storm of emotions.
Starting from a variety of allegories she relates her poetic artistry
to the feminine condition and its sensibility. She recovers the
image of woman over different periods in the history of art and
religion. With irony she parodies the traditional canons of feminine
beauty, subordinated to affectations of pose and display. Her
works compete with conventional art forms, and they receive ornament
and handwork as the stigmatizing sign of the female sex.
Her work is a constant play with quotation and parody, in many
cases referring to Greco-Roman culture, thereby establishing timely
parables about sexuality that have parallels in today's society,
she tries to bring to light the human side of amorous relations
between people of the same sex, with reference to the polarity
created between acceptance and repression by others.
is a self-taught artist, gifted with a special sensibility. In
her painted fables she recreates myths, recollections that she
has preserved since childhood, based fundamentally on rural life.
She has also borrowed African religious themes, which have earned
her prizes in the Biennial Arte Bantu organized by the Bantu International
Center of Civilization in Zaire.
Jacqueline Maggi remains
at the edge of all the tendencies or groups favored by critics.
Nevertheless, her work is always represented in shows and competitions.
She has a special talent
for recycling found objects and for experimentation. Not long
ago, she remarked to me that she was keeping a piece of ebony
in water to do an installation with umbrellas, etc. She amazes
visiting friends who nonetheless trust her creative capacity to
revitalize objects made of an old wooden board eaten away by time.
Elsa Mora. Her work
possesses great visual subtlety, resulting from a profound personal
experience, which amplifies or intensifies our sensory perception
in order to free recollections associated with different places
and moments in time. The different textural effects in her works
are a continual provocation to penetrate them, to leave our own
traces imprinted, as a record of our lives, as vestiges of our
existence and our passage, converting us in this way into recipients
of her singular interior richness and into witnesses-accomplices
of her spiritual ecstasy, of her supreme clairvoyance.
Grisell Morales recreates
the entire domestic world of tasks that are exclusively those
of women, like embroidery, tailoring and sewing, knitting, etc.,
taught and transmitted over generations in the old schools of
Grisell tries to preserve
this familiar memory of the past with great tenderness and respect.
Thus in her installations she incorporates different objects (embroidery
hoops, pins, sewing patterns, industrial fabrics, etc.) once used
by our grandmothers and our mothers.
Her photographic montages are permeated by theatrical gesture,
honoring her true profession: acting. Cirenaica is an artist given
to excess when it comes to taking on daring projects. Recently,
she completed a film that she ventured to make with her photographer-husband
Her work takes us to
the world of affective memory, be it individual or collective.
She creates strongly charged, poetic pieces with an aesthetic
impulse that springs directly from the unconscious.
Pérez maintains the anthropocentric character of her work,
working from her own body. In her formulations she includes the
entire conceptual structure of myths, the taboos and rituals rooted
in popular beliefs. One feels in her work a metaphoric reclamation
of woman's role, of her possibilities and her existential problems.
Sandra Ramos. The theme
of migrations has been an obsessive constant in her work. She
alludes to the ocean voyage, to the risks accrued by frustrated
desires, to the rupture of personal emotional ties, with all the
repercussions and trauma that an act of this avant-garde breadth
can provoke in our psyche.
Sandra is, in many
instances, the protagonist of her installations; she incorporates
in them suitcases filled with memories and hopes. In a metaphorical
way, her proposals claim the attention of all of us in one form
or another suffer the effects of crisis.
Lidzie Alviza starts
from the premise of "art-life!" Her work and her personal-experiential
memory strongly overlap. She tries to reconstruct episodes from
the past, gathering all kinds of familiar objects: embroidered
handkerchiefs, lace work deteriorated with age, negatives, photographs,
etc., in work that formerly favored the use of ingenious metaphors.
The birth of her daughter Alicia has deeply affected her art work,
and Lidzie includes her in some of the works. The artist thinks
of herself as a "reliquary" holding all of those intimate
objects. She wears a strong mask in order to unveil these memories.
who belongs to the generation of the 1990's, makes large-format
prints that refer to the religious rites of the Secret Society
ABUKUA, a sect for men. The artist's greatest merit lies in her
ability to adopt the mythic force of ethical and philosophical
belief system in order to penetrate and manipulate iconography.
She does this through meticulous prior study in which she de sanctifies
the myth and incorporates it into the world of her own experience,
in a discourse based on the symbolic.
Statement by Magda Gonzalez and translated by:Jeanne