Pragmatic and, I hope, possible: The Nation on seven actions Obama should take on Cuba.
— if Alan Gross’ story is any indication — is a pretty crap deal. See Tracey Eaton’s amazing analysis, here at Along the Malecón, of the shady dealings that he signed up for, which subsequently got him put in jail and abandoned there by the U.S. government. Here’s hoping that a second Obama term will hold only good things for U.S.-Cuban relations, and nothing like the Bush-era strategery outlined here.
I’m still undecided on the work of Tania Bruguera, but this is a very clear, straightforward assessment by her:
“Every country has certain censorship and self-censorship,” Tania says. “In capitalist places, it has to do with the economy. As an artist, if you don’t do something that is liked, the corporations won’t buy the work or the collector won’t collect it. In Cuba, it is strictly political, in the sense that there is a responsibility for the artist, who has been raised and educated for free, to not touch some subjects.”
(An old story, on the 1997 Havana Biennial, in the Brooklyn Rail)
“It was interesting to observe how in Cuba, a country isolated largely by the U.S. embargo, people have no access to foreign publications, and their international exposure is very limited. However, Cuban artists are quite well informed. They have a long tradition of sharing the information they do have, and of distributing among themselves books and magazines that become community objects. ”
- Gabriel Orozco on visiting the Havana Biennial.
Within a broad conversation printed in Art In America — between Orozco and fellow Mexican conceptual artist Damián Ortega — there are interesting tidbits on the differences between the Cuban and Mexican art contexts. Check it out here.
Thanksgiving in Havana was black-market filet mignon, purchased by an expat friend who’d lived there for fifteen years without buying red meat on the black market, too afraid of the penalties (seven years in jail, I think). Red and black on a glass table with three Americans and a Mexican around it, a slice of festivity on an ordinary day. A glass of red wine, one of the $10 bottles from the Melia Cohiba wine shop instead of the $4 Nazareño we usually picked up at the Cupet’s convenience store because we couldn’t stomach more rum and we couldn’t not drink, either. People wandering the streets after dark, like normal. Me heading to a grateful dinner and then bowing my head and giving thanks for being where I was, when I was.