Havana Cultura - 10th Havana Biennial 2009 : Kcho & Manuel Mendive Havana Cultura - 10th Havana Biennial 2009 : Duvier del Dago & JEFF

HAVANA TODAY

Mayito - Liudmila & Nelson

Mayito - Liudmila and Nelson
Mayito - Liudmila and Nelson
00:04:01
Colors of Cuba and Havana

Expocuba is where foreign delegations are brought to admire Cuba’s industrial and agricultural innovations (official slogan: "Let’s help them discover Cuba"). But Mario Miguel González, more commonly known as Mayito, had other plans for this convention center in the south of Havana. He gave 110 Cuban artists a theme — "flags" — and then brought their work to Expocuba during the Havana Biennial. Crisis, as Mayito calls the exhibition, features all kinds of flags — painted, sculptural, virtual. At least one of them is bipedal: performance artist Nadia Porras can be found strolling around the exhibition hall and posing for photos dressed head-to-toe in Cuba’s national colors. We spotted one American flag, one French flag and a flag of the Milky Way, but a large majority of the artists took the Cuban flag as their starting point. We asked Mayito, — who contributed his own flag ("La Bandera del Arte Cubano") and was darting around taking care of exhibition business — to point out his personal favorites. Among these is a painting by Cuban novelist Pedro Juan Gutiérrez entitled "Bandera de la Republica Democrática de Centro Habana" (Flag of the Democratic Republic of Centro Habana). Centro Habana is, of course, where Gutiérrez resides and where most of his novels are set. "It’s a very dangerous place," as the novelist says, "and so is this flag, because it can cut you."
Havana is a place where time ripples and overlaps in countless ways. Past, present and future coexist and interact. On certain streets at certain times of day, you find yourself wondering if this is 40 years ago or 10 years from now. Liudmila Velasco and Nelson Ramírez de Arellano Conde, who work under the collective name of Liudmila & Nelson, explore Havana’s unique position on the time-space continuum in an exhibition entitled Hotel Habana. The artists layer present-day photographs on top of old photos of the same areas, and then add an imaginary third layer — what Havana might look like in the future. Hotel Habana also features video footage in which past and present intersect in the random way of two people bumping into each other on a street – 23rd street, in this case, also known as La Rampa and sometimes as "Havana’s Broadway." We bumped into Liudmila and Nelson a few miles east of La Rampa in their exhibition space in the Cabaña fortress, and they immediately put to rest any doubts about their habanero credentials. They met each other while attending Havana’s San Alejandro art academy, and today they live with their four-year-old daughter in the Alamar district. Hotel Habana covers terrain that may seem familiar, but Liudmila and Nelson have managed to capture the city’s elusive temporal personality with unprecedented insight.
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