Cuba - Maps of Desire

18. June 1999 to 15. August 1999

Cuba - Maps of Desire

The exhibition presented works by various artists of Cuban origin either living in Cuba, having left the country, or were born abroad with a cultural Cuban background.

It comprised views from and on Cuba, inside and outside perspectives. The background of the exhbition was to be seen in Cuba's complex past, its love/hate relationship with the American dream, its mixture of African, European and Asian cultures, as well as its isolation due to the U.S. embargo and the fact that it is an island. 

In regard to this background the selected postitions revealed the following central issues of contemporary Cuban art: desire (striving, longing, lust; and the suppression of desire), nostalgia (relations with the ruinous, with death, the precarious and vulnerability), spatial relationships (views from periphery), provisional arrangements (the transitory, temporary solutions as strategies to live and survive) and the recycling of materials and ideas. 

The views from and on Cuba assembled in the exhibition also revealed themselves as views between changing realities: Eduardo Aparicio for example presented a series of photographs of Havana and Miami which cannot really be assigned to one of the two places by the visitor, as the images oscillate between the extremes of a culture torn apart by the developments during the last forty years. 

Manuel Piña looks out towards the sea, the site of dreams limited by the reality of the Malecon walls. 

Marta María Pérez and others showed the possibility of retreating within the private 'reality' of spiritual religiousness, while Félix González-Torres was represented by a minimalist hint at his 'biography'. 

Belief and desire for conquest coincided with biographical connotations in Los mapas del deseo/Maps of Desire by Carlos Garaicoa, which provided the programmatic title for the exhibition. Without abandoning its characteristic narrative qualities and its tradition of chronicling, the artistic expression of 'desire' is neither direct nor obtrusive, but rather ambiguous and increasingly metaphoric. It is the metaphoric that matters for Cuban artists trying to come to terms with history and the realtion between themselves and society. 

The exhibition was conceived by Eugenio Valdés Figueroa (Havana) and Gerald Matt (Kunsthalle Vienna).