Homage to Hans Haacke (exhibition)

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Date: 1989

Region: Central America and the Caribbean

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Mixed Media Painting


Artist: The Conceptual art group ABTV (Tanya Angulo, Juan Ballester, Jose Toirac and Ileana Villazon)

Confronting Bodies: Cuban Ministry of Culture

Dates of Action: September 1989

Location: Cuba

Description of Artwork: "This acerbic homage treated the institutional politics which seek to manipulate and undermine the integrity of individual artistic production. The artists investigated Cuban cultural politics by examining the career of an official Cuban painter whose portraits of Fidel Castro and, earlier, of Fulgencio Batista are rendered in nearly identical styles; the show also included caustic satire on the activities of the Fondo Cubano de Bienes Culturales, the organization which handles the commercial exploitation of Cuban art."

The Incident: The exhibition was never allowed to open. The censorship of this and Eduardo Pon Juan and Rene Francisco (exhibition), marked a turning point in the lives of Cuban artists living on the island. They are now encouraged to leave the country. Many Cuban artists today live in Mexico, France, Spain, Belgium and the U.S.

Results of Incident: "Many artists are critical of exhibitions of Cuban art outside Cuba that display works which could not be shown within the country but which are nonetheless touted abroad as proof of a cultural 'opening' on the island." Juan Ballester of ABTV said, "Cardenas's works were censored here, but shown in Boston. The point of view of the Boston exhibition is that art in Cuba is transforming society. How is that possible?"

Source: "Testing the Limits", by Jay Murphy. "Art in America", October 1992, p.65-69.