El Paquete Semanal [the Weekly Package] is a one-terabyte media collection that is aggregated weekly in Cuba and circulated across the country via in-person file sharing. The package usually contains between 15,000 and 18,000 files, including software, sports, soap operas, music, magazines, and more. Though it is often described as a workaround to the widespread lack of internet in Cuba, El Paquete is perhaps better understood as an extension of traditions of physical media circulation that came before it.
Artists Julia Weist and Nestor Siré have been exploring Cuba’s El Paquete Semanal for several years, archiving and intervening in this national network. In 2015, Siré initiated !!!Sección A R T E [Art Section], a selection of work by Cuban and international artists that is inserted into El Paquete each month.
This event marks the launch of a special bilingual edition of !!!Sección A R T E curated by Weist and Siré as part of Rhizome’s ongoing series the Download, launching in late January. Curated by artist and educator Paul Soulellis, each edition of the Download takes the form of a downloadable .zip archive containing multiple files and folders, which are intended to be experienced as a digital exhibition staged on the user’s desktop. This edition of !!!Sección A R T E will be launched simultaneously on Rhizome and El Paquete Semanal, and will be archived permanently on the former, but overwritten within seven days on the latter.
For this panel discussion and presentation, Siré, and Weist will share the works from this special edition of !!!Sección A R T E and reflect on the possibilities and affordances presented by media distribution through the ad hoc network of El Paquete Semanal. They will be joined by Soulellis; Cuban artist Yonlay Cabrera Quindemil, who will present his work exploring the subjective experience of accessing the internet every day via an extremely limited connection; and multidisciplinary writer Lizabel Mónica, who will contextualize El Paquete Semanal within a longer history of alternative forms of circulation in Cuba.