The subject of the diploma work is partly based on my personal experience gained during my internship at the Galería De Arte Servando in Havana. In Cuba, I had an opportunity to become acquainted with the great obstacles to gallery operation caused by the communist government and, in general, by Cuban culture and temperament. The diploma work builds on historical facts when a cultural exchange between Czechoslovak and Cuban art was a standard component of the operation of state institutions in the past. It was going on in the House of Czechoslovak Culture in Havana just as in the House of Cuban Culture in Prague. After the fall of the USSR both cultural houses were closed and cultural and artistic links have not been re-established to this day. The aim of the diploma work is an attempt to re-enter into a dialogue between Cuba and the Czech Republic (formerly part of Czechoslovakia), which today may be in many aspects different and even alienated. The cultural and artistic relationship between Cuba and Czechoslovakia used to be very warm and could be inspirational in many respects. The current political government in Cuba could be a great obstacle for re-establishment of the connection and continuing the history when we were united by the same political system. The Dialogue exhibition asks questions and searches for answers which are reflected upon in the installation.
Why is it so complicated today to re-establish the cultural and artistic links and why is it so difficult to present each other’s contemporary art in these countries?
The output of the diploma work is a curatorial project which concentrates on the subject of censorship of independent artistic creation in Cuba defined by Regulation No. 349. It also attempts to enter into a kind of dialogue via communication with the Cuban curator Yenisel Osuna Morales, who was invited to collaborate in the project. The primary intention of the Cuban exhibition in the Czech Republic was to introduce contemporary Cuban artists and their independent art, which is restrained by the communist regime. A collective Cuban exhibition in the Czech Republic was to have unbound the hands of the artists and allowed them greater artistic openness than they have in their country now. As the exhibition also raises consciousness of the strict censorship I wanted to make an installation of works of art which would not be culturally appropriate and as such could not be exhibited in Cuba. These works would not pass the approval process of the Cuban Ministry of Culture. However, the censorship issue was very uncomfortable for the artists and the curator and the concept was rejected on their part. Their vision, which was to present contemporary Cuban art in the Czech Republic, was finally shown to be incompatible with the overall concept of the exhibition. In the end, collaboration with the Cuban curator Yenisel Osuna Morales in the Dialogue exhibition was suspended.
Dialogue reflects upon the process of making the exhibition but it also presents the artistic restrictions in Cuba in relation to Regulation No. 349. The installation works with the motif of loading. This is symbolic for the current situation of the concept as it is very difficult to predict the future development of the dialogue between the countries. It also concentrates on the transfer of Cuban stereotypes. From outside Cuba is perceived as a paradise in the Caribbean. The flora of tropical plants, the rhythm of reggaeton resounding all over the island at any time of the day, the scent of the cigars and high-quality rum in the air. For tourists, Cuba is the island of Mojito, Cuba libre, quality tobacco and a turquoise sea with white sand. This ideological view has been preserved to this day. However, the paradox is the contrast that the exhibition exposes. Cuba today is a land where time has stopped, a country where luxury is cheap but things essential for a living are sometimes nearly unattainable.
A series of planned exchange exhibitions will follow in the steps of the Dialogue event which is to highlight the history and open up discussion on the current relationships between the countries. The exchange exhibition should present Czech contemporary art, exhibition organisation and gallery life in Cuba, as well as to showcase Cuban art without restrictions here in the Czech Republic. The first installation from the VVČSKSU (Exchange Exhibition of Czech-Slovak and Cuban Contemporary Art) series will concentrate on the issues of identity, culture and the reforming of Cuba. The curator Yenisel Osuna Morales made a list of contemporary artists who share the themes of pluriculturalism, migration and the diaspora. The exhibition will be held within the framework of the diploma exhibitions during September in the Klubovna Gallery in Brno.