Pop Filter Hot Pick: Queloides/Keloids Opens at the Mattress Factory
This Friday night, 10 Cuban artists will mingle with patrons, discuss their work in public, and celebrate the completion of a residency at the opening of the new Mattress factory exhibition, Queloides: Race and Racism in Cuban Contemporary Art
While this may appear to be business as usual, it's been a long and challenging road since the cutting-edge museum's first, and failed, attempt to bring Cuban artists to its Northside facilities. In Queloides
, 12 artists use a wide variety of media to tackle deep-rooted issues of racism and prejudice that have crippled the island for decades.
"The Mattress Factory's Cuba show of 2004 had been produced under impossible circumstances, and I knew that if there was a gang that would be willing to get into this crazy adventure, it would be them," says University of Pittsburgh scholar Alejandro de la Fuente, who co-curated the show with Cuban artist/curator Elio Rodríguez Valdés.
"This is a generation of artists who came to age artistically in the late 1980s and early 1990s, precisely when the Cuban socialist welfare state was crumbling because of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Racism became such an obvious problem, they began to process this in their work. Art has become the space where people are really talking about race in public, especially for young Afro-Cubans."
De la Fuente, an expert on race relations in Cuba, hopes this conversation will extend beyond the gallery: "This is a project about building bridges between the U.S. and Cuba We cannot wait for our governments to do this for us. The way to make bridges is to build them, and for bridges to work, people have to be able to walk on them. Pittsburgh is a great place to do something like this because of its vibrant cultural life."
The pioneering show marks the first time in post-revolutionary Cuba that the
has appeared in the title of an exhibition. "I was adamant
about the title. This is about removing filters, denouncing something that's
happening and exposing these scars," explains de la Fuente.
A version of the exhibition was featured at The Wifredo Lam Center of Contemporary Art in Havana in April 2010. De la Fuente says the show was well-attended and generated great interest; however, although Cuban authorities allowed the show to occur, they did everything in their power to silence coverage in the mainstream media.
Don't miss your chance to meet the artists and curators this Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. Go beyond the galleries with the museum's ambitious series of public programs, including workshops, lectures, tours, performances, and films.Read all the Pop Filter picks
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