Alejandro Campins, Roberto Diago, Diana Fonseca, Carlos Garaicoa, Diango Harnàndez, Inti Hernandez, Reynier Leyva Novo, Yornel Martinez, Ana Mendieta, Wifredo Prieto, José Yaque.
Sara Alonso Gómez

The idea of a fixed home, a physical location as a reflection of our identity, is evolving. Nowadays, our habitat stretches beyond its stable physical and psychological forms, to acquire the symbolic figure of transhumance. Deep down, the idea of a migrant habitat is nevertheless still a paradox, the consequences of which is the subject matter of this exhibition. Cuba is the point of intersection between the eleven guest artists. Some of them live there, others originally did. In their own way, they each reveal the historic specificities of Cuban society and culture.

In their effort to deconstruct the living place, Yornel Martínez and Wilfredo Prieto expand their multidisciplinary practices and sometimes end up negating it altogether. Martínez crumples up a world map, undoing the current geopolitical order by this simple act. By provoking a water leak within the CAB, Prieto in turn opens a reflection on the porosity of a system that can constantly be put into question. The title of this work, Lágrimas de cocodrilo, suggests a certain wryness towards the facts that are denounced.

Roberto Diago and Ana Mendieta have a go at the link between artistic creation, body and habitat. In Diago’s sculptures, welded roofing sheets act as metaphorical reminders of scars. Mendieta’s Silueta series offers a chiasm between the landscape and her own female body, nullifying the boundaries between body art and land art.

Other artists in the exhibition transform the space of living or transit in a laboratory. They give a new interpretation of reality, in the case of Carlos Garaicoa by using a variety photo mediums and supports; or Diana Fonseca, with paintings composed of materials collected from the walls of disused houses in Havana; or also Alejandro Campins, who finds his inspiration in evolving and abandoned landscapes around him, in Cuba or elsewhere.

«Transhumance» also includes works created specifically for the exhibition. Inti Hernandez will recreate the floor of his home, physically summoning his intimate space and showing the sophistication of Cuban patterns. In turn, José Yaque will take over the CAB, appropriating objects linked to its history and reassembling them in the shape of a tornado.

Lastly, Diango Hernández and Reyner Leyva Novo rely on codification systems of a social discourse to create new spaces, where the reference point becomes unreadable. Hernández makes a troubling association between a replica of the windows in his residence in Düsseldorf and a hyper-codified speech by Fidel Castro; while Novo focuses on the laws that rule Cuban life since 1959, which he transcribes in the shape of enigmatic black monochromes.

Ultimately, what binds the artists included in «Transhumance» are their interests in hybridized notions of artistic agency. By integrating teaching, community leadership, multidisciplinary research, and writing into their practices, they challenge the boundaries of art production as a purely studio-based pursuit. In this way, a uniquely Cuban approach emerges; one that is hands-on, sincere, and deeply invested in the intersections of art and life.

In a world more than ever faced with modern mobility, but too often also with forced exile, Brussels, at the heart of the old continent, deeply European, fluid and solid, a space whose community identity is in constant mutation, constitutes the ideal background to present this unusual portrait of Cuba and its artists.

«Transhumance» was curated by Sara Alonso Gómez, who examines the different dialogue platforms in contemporary artistic creation between Latin America and Europe, in partnership with Éléonore de Sadeleer, director of the CAB.

Alejandro Campins - Nap, 2016 - Oil on canvas, 180 x 240 cm



He has become well known for his mastery of large-scale paintings through the creation of hauntingly evocative works that occupy a metaphysical space between reality and fiction. His artworks sometimes present a disrupted relation between the depicted objects and their surroundings, in an atmosphere that is quiet and still. His paintings can be understood as metaphors that capture the experience of meditation.

Carlos Garaicoa, Photographies on bones, 2012, Pigment print on gelatin coated bone, 12 x 15 cm



Since the early 1990s, he has used photography, performance, drawing, sculpture, installation, text, and video to comment on architecture’s reflection of and effect on the political, economic, and cultural reality of the contemporary world. Through the study of architecture, city planning, the writing of history, and the tradition of aesthetic forms as language, his work articulates propositions of cultural criticism in which a debate emerges about the functions of the artistic gesture and of the role of intellectuals and artists as social agents in the public sphere.

Through his photographic works printed on pieces of bone, Garaicoa explores the arteries of several contemporary cities through a documentary lens, and creates images of aged and ruined places that bear witness to the passage of time and the cities’ process of decay. In printing his images on piece of bovine bone, the support ends up being the proof of the animal’s existence, even after the rest of its physical body has decomposed.

Roberto Diago - Memory Trace, 2015 - Installation, welded recycled metal Variable dimensions



Diago explores this thematic through his work. By creating a visual illusion of scarring on the surfaces of recycled metal domestic water tanks, Huella en la Memoria (Imprint in the Memory) reflects on the still open wounds of the human tragedy created by the transatlantic slave trade and the imprint it has left on Cuban culture and collective memory.

His language and methodology could be compared to Italian Arte Povera, but his intention is less a formal exploration or a reaction against established modes of artistic production promoted by the market, than it is a necessity to use ephemeral or recycled materials. His practice is heavily influenced by the scarcity experienced in Cuba during the so-called Special Period, the economic crisis of the 1990s.

Diana Fonseca - Untitled, from the series Degradations, 2016 - Paint fragments mounted on wood, 100 x 100 cm



Diago explores this thematic through his work. By creating a visual illusion of scarring on the surfaces of recycled metal domestic water tanks, Huella en la Memoria (Imprint in the Memory) reflects on the still open wounds of the human tragedy created by the transatlantic slave trade and the imprint it has left on Cuban culture and collective memory.

His language and methodology could be compared to Italian Arte Povera, but his intention is less a formal exploration or a reaction against established modes of artistic production promoted by the market, than it is a necessity to use ephemeral or recycled materials. His practice is heavily influenced by the scarcity experienced in Cuba during the so-called Special Period, the economic crisis of the 1990s.

Diango Hernández - A view form my window, 2016 - Oil, wood and glass 120 x 234 cm



With his installations, assemblages, drawings, photographs, texts, and images, new alternative systems emerge, mapping the possibility of other territories to be understood and explored. During the last two years he has been working on a group of new works where he translates quotations using a font he created called Waves. All the characters in the font look the same; therefore, once the text is changed into his Waves font, what we see looks like a representation of waves in the ocean.

For “Transhumance,” Hernández developed a new work titled A view from my window, in which he creates a puzzling association between a replication of a window in his house in Düsseldorf and Fidel Castro’s speech at the Red Square in Moscow on April 28, 1963, much of which was devoted to thanking the Soviet Union for its military and economic aid to Cuba, just a few months after the Missile Crisis.

Inti Hernandez – Self / Proper Initative, 2016 – Waterproof stencils, cleaning tools, water and dirt – Variable dimensions – Produced by CAB



The work of Inti Hernandez embraces an approach through which life is defined as a perpetual flow of energy. Disciplines such as architecture and industrial design are the pillars of his work, as is his understanding that these forms are interconnected with daily life. He sees art as a medium to create conversation and dialogue, and finds inspiration in the dreams, ideas, needs, priorities, and spontaneities of those who engage with his work.

In 2011, Hernandez reproduced his own tiled bedroom floor on El Prado’s sidewalk in Old Havana. It is still an ongoing process brought alive in many others locations. The work, titled Propia Iniciativa (Self/Proper Initiative), generates bewilderment and tension: lines of accumulated outdoor dust appear on an interior surface, while the chaos of public space finds a moment of domestic calm. Furthermore, the artist’s performance provokes interaction with the audience and provides a free pass to break down borders of intimacy and human communication. Beauty emerged regardless, proving its immanence despite challenging or difficult contexts.

Reynier Leyva Novo – 9 Laws, from the series The Weight of History, 2014 Printed press ink Variable dimensions Collection Pérez Art Museum, Miami, gift of Jorge M. and Darlene Pérez



His works are often the result of joint efforts involving historians, cartographers, alchemists, botanists, musicians, designers, translators, and military strategists, brought together in an attempt to set into motion ideological mechanisms blocked by the rust and sediment that have accumulated over years of rigid national immobility.

Novo’s artistic process includes the use of different media such as video, photography, design, and installation. He developed INk, a software program for calculating the area, volume, and weight of the ink employed for manuscripts and printed documents. By transcribing the obtained data into black abstract compositions, he created several series dissolving the original content of the initial sources.

Nueve leyes focuses on a selection of the legislation adopted by the Cuban Revolution from its beginnings onwards, such as Law of Agrarian Reform, Law on Nationalization, Law of Urban Reform and Housing, among others.

Yornel Martínez Trash, 2013 - Squeezed world map, variable dimensions Unlimited edition



He is a sharp observer of the present-day Cuban art scene and its complexities, but he is also an incredible researcher and oral chronicler. One could set his practice in between two semantic worlds: art and writing, with the borders that separate the two becoming at times nearly invisible. His sources are very diverse; from Cuban and international literature to French semiology and linguistics, and they also encompass Belgian Surrealism, American and European Conceptualism and post-Conceptualism, Relational Aesthetics, and Buddhism.

Martínez’ symbolic approach reconciles both gesture and recycling. He uses a large range of media such as drawing, painting, objects, installations, calligrams, and actions in public space. Language, in all its tautological variations, is also a recurrent element that completes meaning or drives us toward a way out. His works are imbued with a restless anima and a fundamental desire to understand history and art from a wider, more complex perspective.

In Trash, Martínez reduces a paper world map to a ball, symbolically and poetically questioning by his gesture the geopolitical distribution that appeared on a found atlas published in Cuba.

Ana Mendieta – Burial Pyramid, August 1974 Super-8mm film transferred to high-definition digital media, color, silent Running time: 3:17 minutes Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York


BORN IN 1948 – 1985

Born in Havana to a prominent political family,she was sent to the United States at the age of twelve, as part of an American government-sponsored program Operation Peter Pan. This operation, meant to “save children’s souls” from the Communist regime, removed and relocated thousands of Cuban children. The estrangement from her family and homeland would deeply influence her life and art.

Profoundly iconoclastic and autobiographical, Mendieta’s work focuses on themes including feminism, violence, life, death, spirituality, place, and belonging. She created a unique mode of sculpture derived from her solo performances that she documented with film and photography.

Her œuvre, collected under the title Earth Body engages with the histories of body art and land art. The work’s title underlines a fusion between her body and the natural loci. She describes her work as “grounded in the belief of one universal energy which runs through everything: from insect to man, from man to spectre, from spectre to plant from plant to galaxy. […] Through my Earth Body sculptures I become one with the earth… I become an extension of nature and nature becomes an extension of my body.” This profound desire runs through her film work Burial Pyramid, and her Silueta Series (1973–80), a series in which Mendieta created female silhouettes with natural materials ranging from leaves and twigs to blood, by making prints or painting the outline of her body onto a wall or within a landscape.

Wilfredo Prieto, Crocodile Tears, 2011 Installation, Collyrium, variable dimensions



Prieto’s oeuvre is characterized by minimalism, sarcasm, and self-mockery. He uses a strategically restricted variety of materials together with a sharp sense of humor, making conscious and pointed use of comedy to satirical ends. As the artist himself regularly says: “Ideas exist in the real world, just like clouds. You can see them and catch them.” In a certain way, Prieto is pointing to the fact that everyone could do what he does.

Putting himself at a distance from the Duchampian readymade, Prieto prefers to classify his artworks as “found-meanings.” The iconoclastic gesture or object is no more—and no less—than a container of meaning, derived from everyday situations. He subtlety approaches themes like consumerism, national identity, value, and authenticity, and his work sometimes borders on the ludicrous. The sense of essentialism present in his work functions like a motto or proverb: a simple combination of words and elements that can be easily read. His artwork Lágrimas de Cocodrilo (Crocodile Tears) introduces itself as being an infrastructural problem—a leak in the CAB’s building structure—but on closer inspection turns out to be tears falling from the ceiling. The work can be seen as a personification of an architectural space.

José Yaque – Interior with Hurricane, 2016 Installation, Variable materials and dimensions Produced by CAB / Galleria Continua



He believes that there is an intimate relationship between art, individuals, and nature. In order to find new material for his paintings and installations, he proceeds as an archaeologist or, more accurately, as a geophysicist who digs for minerals. His paintings are explorations of a new formal dialectic: the colors are blended one into another, creating discontinuous lines that transform again when the artist wraps the work in plastic film. After removing the film, the result is an eroded painting, which could be compared to the traces the wind leaves on the Earth.

For “Transhumance” he realized Interior con Huracán (Interior with Hurricane), which evokes a hurricane that is surrounding and wrapping everything. He composed his artwork using domestic objects obtained after a public call or found in the city of Brussels. Yaque believes in the idea of collective experience, for which he is not the only storyteller; it is the audience who adds layers of interpretation by offering their own objects and completing the artwork. As a powerful natural force, the hurricane can be seen both in terms of the disaster it causes and the rebirth that occurs afterward.

Inscrivez-vous à notre newsletter

Inscrivez-vous à notre newsletter