MIAMI—Domestic Anxieties, the third chapter of Pérez Art Museum Miami’s (PAMM) multi-part, yearlong exhibition dedicated to contemporary Cuban art, opens January 19, 2018. On the Horizon: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection features over 170 works of art spanning painting, drawing, photography, mixed-media, and sculpture and highlights a rich panorama of recent work produced by artists living both in Cuba and abroad. Chapter 3: Domestic Anxieties takes a closer look at artists whose work questions everyday life and its attendant insecurities, stresses, and anxieties.
On the Horizon is PAMM’s most ambitious Cuban art exhibition to date and celebrates the recent generous gift of Cuban artworks donated to the museum by Jorge M. Pérez in December 2016. The exhibition is organized around the metaphor of the horizon line—a motif that appears in many of the works on view—and brings together a strong view of artistic practices in Cuba from the last three decades as well as work by young, lesser-known artists working on the island and across the globe. The symbolic framework of the horizon line helps generate a larger dialogue between the works on view and the specificities of Cuba’s current physical, social, and political landscape, as revealed through each artist’s personal experience and unique aesthetics.
“PAMM’s mission is to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas on topics that resonate in our community,” says PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans. “On the Horizon has given us an opportunity to reflect and connect with our audience in exciting new ways, encouraging critical and thought-provoking conversations with visitors through programs such as ‘Miami Stories’, a project in collaboration with HistoryMiami and WLRN, a program that allows current and former Miami-Dade County residents to share their unique Miami-related experiences. Moreover, what we’ve seen throughout the past six months, and what I hope will continue with this last exhibition chapter, is an outpouring of support, curiosity, and meaningful dialogue about the breadth of artwork on view.”
“With On the Horizon, we set out to showcase the disproportionate amount of talent possessed by Cuban artists on the island, in Miami and around the world, and I’m happy to say the positive reception we’ve received has surpassed all of our expectations,” said Jorge M. Perez, PAMM benefactor and CEO of The Related Group. “I’m fascinated by the insightful, albeit sometimes challenging, conversations this show has sparked. The ongoing dialogue has reinforced my own belief in art’s unique capability to unite otherwise isolated communities and I cannot wait to see the conversations generated by this third and final chapter.”
Domestic Anxieties features works that focus on the everyday insecurities and personal stresses of the individual. In a video work by Havana-based artist Diana Fonseca Quiñones entitled Pasatiempo (hobby), the artist is seen stitching the shape of an airplane into the skin on her hand, a metaphor for many Cubans’ dreams of being able to travel outside the island.
Several works present images that map domestic interiors or intimate locations, while others reference details taken from the street or public buildings. A series of photographs by creative duo Atelier Morales depict deteriorating building interiors in Havana, illustrating the country’s lost architectural heritage and thus the lost stories of families who no longer inhabit these places.
Other artists use language and graphics to create spaces of aspiration, critique, and doubt. Angel Delgado’s Dream reflections (2014) depicts a man trying to push open a larger than life lock. For Delgado, an artist living and working in Las Vegas, Nevada, the theme of struggle against control and societally imposed limitations results in a poetic commentary on individual freedoms. In a work by Esterio Segura, the artist draws a human figure with open arms holding windmills, an ode to human strength and determination in the face of social despondency.
The art world, articulated as a political arena filled with specific pressures and uncertainties, is also addressed in several works. In Glexis Novoa’s Revolico (2014), the Miami-based artist mixes words like “Guggenheim”, “Phillips”, and “Revolico”, as a means of coopting familiar language to comment on the contradictory sociocultural and economic experiences for those living between Cuba and America. In a life-size sculpture by Gabriel Cisneros, the artist cheekily turned his final thesis exam for art school into a critique of the country’s institutional art system by enclosing the written thesis inside the sculpture whereby the thesis jury members could only read it by breaking the artwork itself. The jury decided not to destroy it, resulting in a piece that reflects on the artistic act and how it is evaluated.
Other artists featured in Chapter 3 include Carlos Garaicoa, Los Carpinteros, Carlos Rodríguez Cárdenas, Tomás Esson, Ernesto Leal, and Lázaro Saavedra.
As Miami’s flagship contemporary art museum, collecting the work of Cuban artists and documenting the Cuban Diaspora exemplifies PAMM’s mission to represent its place in the world—geographically, conceptually and intellectually. Cuba, equally a part of Latin America and the Caribbean, has been an area of sustained interest at PAMM going back to its beginnings as a presenting institution. The presentation of On the Horizon at PAMM coincides with a renewed energy internationally around Cuban art at a time when US-Cuban relations remain an active subject of discussion. Through Mr. Pérez’s gift, PAMM now holds one of the largest collections of contemporary Cuban art in any American museum.