I remember as an important moment in my artistic thought process the Site Santa Fe Biennial from 1999, curated by Rosa Martinez, in which she included images from Greenpeace actions as part of the exhibit. They were large photos in which the beauty did not lie in its depth of field, nor in its composition, but rather in the disproportion that existed between a determined group of people and the powers that they were facing, generating visual images that spoke for themselves. One day, many years later, walking through the streets of Havana, I saw a group of women, silent, all dressed in white in the Malecon. They were no more than twelve. But the strength of that image remained impregnated in me. I said to myself: This is the best performance that has been done in Havana.
Yesterday I counted 78 women, dressed in white, that walked in silence, in one of the longest performances in the history of performance; a performance made by activists only upended by those Madres de Mayo. Maybe in Cuba some will differ with my artistic appreciation, but to talk about the subject we would have to refer to “artivism”, which already has a long history, and not only for the concept of art that is deriving, rather small, in the socially committed art in today’s world.
It may be that las Damas de Blanco and #YoTambienExijo may not coincide in everything, nor may we have the same opinion about certain things (I recognize that we have not had the same experiences). The Damas de Blanco see themselves as an action of political protest and #YoTambienExijo is a political work of art. But, there is a point in which we both coincide: that we need ALL cubans to have the right to be active free political citizens.
I want to thank all those Damas that yesterday inundated me with their love and gave me part of their strength, which is persistence.
January 19th, 2015