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Eugene Weekly : Visual Art : 3.24.11


Cuban Voices for American Eyes

by Dante Zu¿iga-West

Roberto Fabelos Moscas (Flies)

The official government stance of Cuba is that after Castros revolution, issues of racial discrimination, homophobia and gender bias were eliminated. The beautiful and haunting artwork of a post-revolution generation begs to differ.

"Diaspora, Identity, and Race: Cuba Today,” an exhibit on display at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art from March 22 to June 26, is a collection of visual art aimed at addressing issues that have long been taboo in the island country of Cuba. A coagulation of poverty, prostitution and political transition establishes the forefront and backdrops of the paintings and photographs in this exhibit. Curated by Ashley Gibson and sponsored in part by the Center for Latino/a and Latin American studies, "Cuba Today” showcases artists from the "mala hierba” (bad weed) generation known for their ability to resist and survive economic hardship as opposed to their artistic counterparts who fled the country during the 1980s.

Working with limited resources and sometimes with the support of Castros government, artists such as Belkis Ayon, Sandra Ramos, Roberto Fabelo, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons and others have managed to export their work to galleries all over the United States. Despite the heavy history behind these artisans, "Cuba Today” is a collection of works that is very recent, most from the decade following the •90s and some as recent as 2010.

What is perhaps most intriguing about the works, aside from the sheer resilience of the artists, is the use of the human body as a representation of Cuba ã both geographically and culturally. Physical and virtual borders are examined in pieces that critique the socio-political underpinnings of Cubas Afro-Latin heritage. For a country whose mythology precedes it, whether in right-wing psychobabble or Che Guevara flags, Cuba has not often had the chance to speak for herself. "Diaspora, Identity, and Race: Cuba Today” is a rare opportunity for us to listen.