Monday, May 25, 2015

Havana day 5 (walls)

The outstanding part of today was visiting the area in around Kcho's studio in Romerillo - a transformation of spaces both private and public that sometimes completely blurred the lines between the two; that confused the unmediated and the artificial; that showed everything to be in a state of flux, and interacting with the humans who occupied these mutable spaces.  The whole area confused visual and verbal language - but above all, embodied community art / art for a community at its best.

It's a country where very many surfaces are decaying and beautiful (it's a ruin-porn fetishist's paradise), and on top of this, walls and other blank spaces are endlessly occupied by images.  Some of these are political, both official and unofficial;

Some pull art into unusual spaces, like the playground,

or incorporate art that is all too apt for its surroundings, and thus confuses registers.

Some's just there on the wall.

Then there are the one-off words -

this NO is echoed on a wall in Sergio César's elaborate miniature, delicate, detailed favela, using corrugated cardboard and other repurposed scraps of cloth and plastic.

Sometimes walls carry prints;

sometimes paint.

Some very ordinary, functional sites - like bus shelters - are radically transformed by reflecting materials.

The installation in the old Los Marino grocery store beautifully provoked one into asking what's art, in a deliberate sense; and what is just there - asking us to find beauty, or questions, in bags of sugar, and old vinegar vats,

and bits of sacking and plastic.

And there were yet other kinds of ordinariness - small neighborhood kids playing in front of Juan Pérez Balseiro's El Bolio video;

a hen and chickens in the outdoor Kcho studio space - I could go on ...

... but instead, finish back in a more central part of Havana, with non-Biennial and older art: a long row of swans forming a balustrade.

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