". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Havana Biennial

The NY Times Arts section does a story on it, as a number of NY galleries and artists have mounted work at the Havana Biennial. The story includes a slide show of some of the works, many of which are displayed outside of a more a traditional museum-gallery-exhibit setting, around Havana. This bienial's theme is “Integration and Resistance in the Global Age.”

"The biennial, which opened on Friday, runs until April 30 and has attracted works from more than 300 artists and 54 countries."

With funds from the Fundación Amistad, a nonprofit organization based in the United States that promotes exchanges and understanding between Americans and Cubans, the Chelsea exhibition includes works by 30 artists from more than two dozen galleries, including Jack Shainman, Loretta Lux, Charles Cowles and Lehmann Maupin.

Among the pieces on exhibit is Doug Young’s “Nuclear Launch Center,” a pea-soup green desk that looks like one from the Arizona nuclear silo. Next to it stands “New Mount Rushmore,” by Long-Bin Chen, made out of New York telephone directories, which adds President Obama to the usual quartet of presidents.

The artist Duke Riley, who arrived in Havana at the beginning of March to organize a St. Patrick’s Day parade, takes a different course. “I like making friends,” he said, “but I also like messing with folks.” An eccentric bon vivant, Mr. Riley is best known
for his commentary on homeland security. (He built a model of a Colonial-era boat said to be the first submarine and was arrested as he floated up to the Queen Mary 2 when it visited New York Harbor.) Here, he organized the parade down O’Reilly Street in Old Havana partly to highlight the role the Irish had in Cuban history, he said, but also to see if it was any more difficult to get permission to march here than in the United States. “Imagine if a North Korean citizen showed up in Washington and suddenly said he wanted to organize a parade to commemorate some random holiday of his choosing,” Mr. Riley said. “How long do you think it would take to get permission?”

It took him a week to persuade Cuban officials to let him have the event. On the day of the parade he put the island’s most famous transvestite, Farah, at the head of the march to see if officials would stop it. They did not, and some of the security guards
assigned to the event actually joined in the dancing when the bagpipes were played.
“It just goes to show that you can have a little fun while you’re trying to push the envelope,” Mr. Riley said.

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