Intersecciones Havana / Portland is a conversation between two crossroads of the Americas. Cuba is one of the earliest colonies and a pivot of global trade. Portland is the end of the Oregon Trail — first traveled by the college’s namesakes. The six artists have considered the particular history of Portland in their work for the exhibition. Susana Pilar Delahante Matienzo creates installations and public actions that poke at the troubled cultural space for people of African ancestry. Reynier “El Chino” Novo’s reimagined cultural objects reveal the depleted energy of true political action. Elizabet Cerviño’s spare performances draw from the haunted contradictions in historic spaces. Adriana Arronte’s installations of exquisitely crafted glass, plastic, and metal objects complicate spaces of personal consumption. Rafael Villares’s displaced landscapes create tensions between desire and reality. Yornel Martínez’s alternative magazines provide manuscripts for artist exchange.
When the idea to curate a show of Cuban artists first emerged, we had no inkling of the historic change about to take place between the two countries. We happened to be in Havana on the day that President Obama met with Raúl Castro and announced he would take Cuba off the terrorist list. This provides the backdrop for Intersecciones. In the US public imagination, Cuba is either a Communist failure or a victim of US imperialism. A glaze of “cubanismo” corrupts the American idea of Cuba — racy nightclubs, Che worship, and old cars. The perception of Cuba as isolated and caught in the past is a blindness caused by American foreign policy. Though the US cut the phone lines some 50 years ago, Cuba has been in communication with the rest of the world. The artists we met trained at ISA (Instituto Superior de Arte). They bring a very unique, global perspective to Portland. This show is an attempt to open up interchanges between Cuban and Pacific Northwest artists. Like Havana, Portland is a small city that occupies a large place in the national imagination.
Linda Tesner, Director of the Hoffman Gallery, Lewis & Clark College
Daniel Duford, Visiting Associate Professor of Art, Reed College
Elliott Young, Professor of History, Lewis & Clark College
This exhibition is made possible by a generous grant from Regional Arts and Culture Council and Reed College.