Queloides/Keloids Race and Racism in Cuban Contemporary Art.

Event Details

Queloides/Keloids Race and Racism in Cuban Contemporary Art.

Time: April 26, 2010 at 6pm to February 1, 2011 at 7pm
Location: Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam, Havana, April 16 - May 31, 2010 Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, October 8, 2010 - February 27, 2011
Website or Map: http://www.queloides-exhibit.…
Event Type: exhibition
Organized By: Mattress Factory
Latest Activity: Aug 6, 2010

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Event Description

After decades of official silence, discussions of “race” and racism have become prominent in contemporary Cuba. Since the early 1990s, numerous cultural actors—musicians, writers, painters, performers, and academics—began to do something that was previously unthinkable: they began to denounce the persistence of racial discrimination in Cuban socialist society. These intellectuals have articulated the concerns of the Afro-Cuban youth, a population group that came to age in the early 1990s, precisely at the time that the socialist welfare state began to unravel. They have constituted a loose Afro-Cuban cultural movement that is using cultural spaces to raise uncomfortable questions about the persistence of racism in Cuba. Culture has become the space where a democratic future can be imagined and debated within the island.

Queloides/Keloids is an art exhibit that seeks to contribute to current debates about the persistence of racism in contemporary Cuba and elsewhere in the world. The exhibit will be hosted at the Centro Wifredo Lam in Havana (April 16 - May 31, 2010), then transferred to the Mattress Factory (October 8, 2010 - February 27, 2011). The twelve artists invited to participate are renowned for their critical work on issues of race, discrimination, and identity. Several of them collaborated in three important exhibits in Havana between 1997 and 1999 (titled “Keloids I”, “Keloids II”, and “Neither Musicians nor Athletes”). The last two were curated by the late Cuban art critic Ariel Ribeaux. All these exhibits dealt with issues of race and racism in contemporary Cuba, issues that had been taboo in public debates in the island for decades. “Keloids” are wound-induced, pathological scars. Although any wound may result in keloids, many people in Cuba believe that the black skin is particularly susceptible to them. Thus the title evokes the persistence of racial stereotypes, on the one hand, and the traumatic process of dealing with racism, discrimination, and centuries of cultural conflict, on the other hand. Queloides/Keloids includes several art forms--paintings, photographs, installations, sculptures, videos--and offers novel ways to ridicule and to dismantle the so-called racial differences.

Participant Organizations:

The Wifredo Lam Center of Contemporary Art in Havana, Cuba, will host the opening of the exhibition in April 2010. The Center is a cultural institution dedicated to the study, research and promotion of contemporary visual arts from developing countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean. It is the organizer of the Havana Biennial. It was founded in 1983 as an homage to the great Cuban artist Wifredo Lam (1902 - 1982). The Center is housed in an eighteenth-century building, which was formerly the residence of the Counts of Peñalver. Located on Cathedral Square in Old Havana, the building has offices, spacious galleries, a library, a video library and areas for other cultural activities.

The Mattress Factory is a museum of contemporary art, founded in 1977, that provides a place and complete support for artists to take risks and explore new ideas. The museum’s primary concern is to enable each artist to exercise the creative process with as much freedom and support as possible. For emerging artists, this is often the catalyst that propels their work into the national limelight; and for well-established artists, a Mattress Factory residency provides the support they need to refresh their vision or take their work in new directions.


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