Here is some of the art we interfaced with during our time in Havana. This is a very short list, given Cuba’s thriving art tradition, but hopefully it will whet your appetites!
Fresa Y Chocolate (1993, 1h44 min) : This iconic gay film kept being referenced during our time in Cuba. There is even a café named after it in Vedado, although it no longer appears to be the popular destination it once was. When we watched the film back in Montreal, we found a touching tale of friendship rather than the queer romance we were expecting. An ostracised gay man pursues a sensitive straight man, who is initially homophobic, but softens as their connection grows. The moral of the story seems to be that you can befriend gays without serious adverse events. That being said, things don’t end well for the gay.
Mujeres entre el Cielo y la Tierra (2013, 33 min) : This was the only sapphic film we uncovered prior to travelling – a short compilation of interviews with Cuban lesbians. The eclectic graphics and the dizzying soundtrack are almost comical, yet the content of the interviews is quite sad: homelessness, addiction, self-punishment, exclusion and despair.
Ana Mendieta (1948-1985): Mendieta’s feminist earth-body work is raw and real. Through sculpture, performance art and video she explores questions of representation and gender-based violence. Piccolo discovered a podcast about Ana and her tragic murder in the months leading up to our Cuba trip. The impact of Ana’s murder created a divide in the art world, half of which defended her honour and pointed the finger at her husband, Carl Andre.
Tania Brugera (1968-present): Both artist and activist, Brugera has been to jail a few times for her public performances. She is well known for Estadistica, the Cuban flag she wove out of human hair (exhibited in the Museo de Bellas Artes, Edifico Cubano), in addition to several political pieces, including a tribute to Ana Mendieta.
Soleida Rios (1950-present) : This acclaimed Afro-Cuban poet’s work reads like a dreamscape, in which personal anthology meets mythical creature meets rallying cry. We found one of her collections in a used bookstore in Havana Vieja, and were hooked by the first line: “El pájaro nació del filo de un machete” – the bird was born from the edge of a machete.
From Celia Cruz to Bebo Valdes to Benny Moré to Arsenio Rodigues to Eliades Ochoa to Los Zafiros to Tania Leon to Gente de Zona to El Chacal to Lenier to Eddy K to Jacob Forever – there are simply too many excellent Cuban musicians out there! We made a playlist that includes son, rumba, jazz, and cubaton.
Subscribe to our email newsletter to get the latest posts delivered right to your email.