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The generous city by René Francisco Rodríguez is a collective exhibition between a teacher and his students, which succeeds in showing how art can be interpreted in a face of the inexorable passage of time. The piece, Humus, by Dania González, is a metaphor in itself, which speaks about the cycle of life…
Among the many features that make the 11th Havana Art Biennial a unique event is the amazing variety of ways of interpreting art in the face of the inexorable passage of time. One of those ways has emerged with the undisputable power of premeditation and a memory forged by the progressive work of an idea that becomes permanent, and connects itself with increasing passion to the urgency of vindicating urban spaces. Under the title Ciudad Generosa [Generous City], the integral artist René Francisco Rodríguez has grouped the talent and the will of his students around his own, and relinquishing the authority that comes with his condition as Master of Arts, he has suggested advancing in a democratic and simple way to a point where what has been built puts an end to the period of utopia, or which simply encourages more complex pursuits.
The group that is undertaking this still unfinished journey is now recognized as The Fourth Pragmatics, because this teacher, who levitates among the energies of the other members, has already carried out three previous pragmatics, in which risk and constant change seem to prevail. Adhered to this sort of mutant intent are young artists Anabel A. Zenea, Fidel Y. Castro, Dania González, Yami Socarrás, Guillermo Cárdenas, Dayana Trigo, Alejandra Oliva, Jenny Feal, Víctor Piverno, Nelson Barrera, Ruth M. Trueba, and Yoxi Velazquez, all of whom provide a common blood to the veins that connect the different projects, which are different and dependent at the same time, within a city whose voices guide them.
The task of restoring damaged tissue is beautiful, yet difficult, especially when the damage is severe and has intervened, in a way, in the workings of the mind. During that process, any movement, gesture or decision may be interpreted as a false move. As in an organism, everything must function through the magic of effectiveness, each piece contributing its meaning to the rescue of what has apparently been lost. Moving around streets and rooms, one feels how the distance between public and private becomes shorter; the representation of urban life seems friendlier to individuals who, with some difficulty, begin to recover their confidence. Then everyone seems to feel that they are reborn from the depths of their own lives, filled with lucidity, and understanding something that can only be perceived in sleep or in another dimension. The voices then become echoes, ringing bella, alerts on the position that the bodies should adopt.
In the end, as in a real city, what is brought to bear is the hope of each of those who have had the chance of intervening. The most attractive thing is how the collective energy, which breaks up into individualities that enrich it with disturbing interpretations, appropriates the individual spirit. Among these aspirations that end up projecting themselves from their oneiric force, Alejandra Oliva Ramos’s Kerepakupai seems to have a large impact. Her piece reminds us of the creative energy of water with the simulation of Angel Falls, the highest uninterrupted cataract in the world with a drop of 979 m (3,212 ft). The idea of vertigo required to converse with our origins seems to find in this representation a successful conclusion--the clearest ideas usually grow from the deepest places.
Humus, by Dania González, is another dynamic piece, which is conceptually one of the most successful within this emerging city. The matter she has chosen, humus, is a metaphor in itself, which speaks about the cycle of life, and especially of the constant possibilities for purification that man may be opting for almost permanently. The close relationship between Man and Humus, particularly in the belief that “man is made of dust from the soil,” also becomes explicit.
This city, both generous and inclusive, delves very subtly into the overwhelming issues of which citizens of this time are victims. Each city has its own difficulties, its own afflictions--and joys. The artist is just a vehicle that transfers those conflicts and concerns to a place where the good will of all allows us to move towards a cleansing that cannot be delayed.
For the ultimate review of the 2012 Havana Art Biennial please see: