Flora Fairbairn & Co. launches with The Weight of an Island in the Love of the People,
an online exhibition of works by 15 Cuban artists in collaboration with curator Sachie Hernández
Against a backdrop of economic turmoil and heightened artistic tensions in Cuba, Flora Fairbairn & Co, in collaboration with Havana-based curator Sachie Hernández, presents The Weight of an Island in the Love of the People. This online exhibition of works by 15 Cuban artists is the inaugural project of Flora Fairbairn’s new art consultancy Flora Fairbairn & Co.
A few of these artists, such as Gustavo Perez Monzon, Diango Hernández, Juan Miguel Pozo, Inti Hernández, Alex Hernández, Ariamna Contino and Alejandro González, have exhibited internationally, while others are at earlier stages of their career and this is their first exposure to an international audience. The artists’ works have been chosen for their beauty and their poetic, political, historical, philosophical, social and ethical sensitivities. As Abel Barreto points out, ‘Cuban art is as heterogenous as the problems, realities and moments of Cuba herself’. What unites the diversity of this project is its embedding in universal discourses that transcend the Cuban context.
Liz Capote’s subtle focus is on gender violence as an abstract projection within the multifarious context of global feminism. Alejandro Gonzalez’s Adolescents presents photogenic personalities in young, social media-influenced Cuban society, capturing urban tribes from skaters and emos to youths following metal or repartero - Cuban urban salsa. Mari Claudia García makes micro-investigations into societal power structures. Her Woven Bags examines the value of the artisanship of indigenous Mexico versus the fetishising nature of souvenir buying, a reference to the mainstream tourism culture at play in Cuba.
Whether they are resident or non-resident on the island, Cuba informs these artists’ work, even if Cuba is not overt in their work. The country is in the midst of economic reform with the unification of its dual currency system and the further loosening of its private entrepreneurship laws. Inequities and poverty persists on the island, exacerbated by the devastating effect of the global pandemic on the travel industry, as well as the intensification of the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba during the Trump presidency.
Against this backdrop, a movement for freedom of expression has emerged out of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (Unión Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba, UNEAC), which culminated in a sit-down outside the Ministry of Culture on 27 November last year. Since then, there has been a clear polarization between the positions of the government and the activist elements of the union. There is no uniform position within Cuba’s artistic and intellectual community. But there has never been a more interesting time to be an artist in Cuba.
Ten per cent of profits from the sales of these artworks will go to Akokán, a project based in Los Pocitos, an informal settlement of Havana of about 2,000 black and mixed-race Cubans living in vulnerable socioeconomic conditions. Akokán is dedicated to improving the living conditions of the local population.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Weight of an Island in the Love of the People
7 June - 30 September 2021
Abel Barreto | Liz Capote | Ariamna Contino | Odey Curbelo
Mari Claudia García | Alejandro González | Dania González | Alex Hernández Diango Hernández | Inti Hernández | Gustavo Pérez Monzón | Michel Pou Juan Miguel Pozo | Irving Vera | Francisco Alejandro Vives
About Sachie Hernández
Sachie Hernández has been the founder and director of La Sindical since 2017. The project’s purpose is to promote and commercialise the work of artists, mainly Cuban, who live and work in and out of Cuba. La Sindical’s scope transcends Cuba to collaborate in projects around the world, connecting and furthering projects of all art forms, and building relationships within its community. Hernández has curated numerous exhibitions in Havana, Berlin, Barcelona, Boston, Vermont and Mexico. She has directed prominent Cuban institutions including the Servando Gallery and the Havana Center for the Development of Visual Arts, and took a place on the 10th Havana Biennial organising committee. She collaborated with Flora Fairbairn in 2012 on the Havana Cultura visual arts programme in Cuba, coordinating artist residencies for participating artists. She has been a consultant for UNESCO, coordinating residencies such as Artista X Artista. Before launching La Sindical, she was working with Galeria Continua in Havana.
About Flora Fairbairn
In collaboration with Sachie Hernández, The Weight of an Island in the Love of the People is the first project presented by Flora Fairbairn’s new consultancy Flora Fairbairn & Co, an organisation that celebrates collaboration and is built on extensive partnerships created over two decades. Fairbairn, an independent curator and art advisor, has worked with over 500 artists across the globe. With a background in architecture and the built environment, she has been merging art with architecture in a wide range of architecturally interesting locations, including Havana, where she was a Creative Advisor for the Havana Cultura visual arts programme back in 2010. Passionate about raising artists’ profile to an international audience, she advises art collectors and has curated exhibitions for the David Roberts Foundation, The Zabludowicz Collection, The Genesis Foundation, Somerset House and La Casa Encendida in Madrid.
The name of this supported community derives from the Afro-Cuban ritual language, Lucumí, in which Akokán means ‘from the heart’, referring to the extraordinary resilience of the people of Los Pocitos. This severely impoverished, largely Afro-Cuban community is made up of more than 2,000 people living on the periphery of Havana. Akokán was established in 2016 to provide support to the community through the distribution of food and other services such as for elderly people living alone and children. It represents a model of intervention on a small scale involving joint action by local government, universities and the private sector, with an emphasis on mitigating the social impact of COVID-19 and to generate opportunities and improve living conditions for the community.
For more information or press enquiries, please contact:
Founder & Director, Flora Fairbairn & Co.