“After a few months in this environment, I begin to feel the intoxication into which this hectic and tumultuous life plunges me. All this multitude of objects passing in front of my eyes makes me dizzy. Among all the things that surprise me, none touches my heart; however, all together they disturb my feelings, they make me forget what I am and to whom I belong ”Saint Proux wrote to his fiancée in eighteenth-century France. Somehow, Absence does not mean oblivion, an exhibition that heralds a new independent space in Havana, it is sponsored under that modern nostalgia. The works gathered there possess, some to a greater degree than others, the fate of the dis-identity that animated such lines of La Nueva Eloísa.
Delirio Estudio-Galería, where the exhibition is located and where Lancelot Alonso resides, is the space that functions as the Havana base of operations for Artesseprojekt, a visual arts platform dedicated to promoting the artistic creation of emerging talents. Absence does not mean oblivion, under the curatorship of Yanet Oviedo, is made up of Linet Sánchez, José Capaz, Alejandro Gómez Cangas, Ernesto García, Omar Tirado, Lancelot Alonso, Leo de la O, Maikel Sotomayor, and Rafael Villares. If you are familiar with the names, with the artists specifically, with the curator, and with Adonis Toledo, the visible leader of this collaborative structure, you realize that it is an exhibition that responds to a generational criterion. A group of young artists who are around the same age is present after the impasse caused by brutal confinement, after the involuntary absence that the COVID-19 pandemic inflicted on our lives, separated from the traditional forms of communication and promotion of the artwork.
After this enormous vital impact, there is no better excuse to put together an expo project than love and friendship, Religare. That makes you a frank member of a community and of a shared sensibility that resides in the fear of being alive. This is how I want to see Absence does not mean oblivion. An expo whose core is what everyone tries to avoid, the community gesture, the hug, the joy of sharing just because. This empathy, which is often fractured by the tyranny of the curator, has prevailed in this exhibition. There is nothing more organic in this world. Or at least, after so much loss, that's how I want to see it.
Absence does not mean oblivion, it means, above all, the return from that state of hyper-communication, of that “attention economy” generated in social networks. Return to the ritual of exposing to belong to it, cling to existence. To last. Give faith in life Say present at the roll call. This would be, apparently, only readable grammar. The expo would then be understood as a preservation space within that aberrant phase that has been the quarantine; like a re-encounter device that protects you from oblivion by returning a momentary streak of being endearing, and memorable. And it only lasts in memory. On that rope, Absence… fulfills its mission, like that hug that has been restored in the face of the greeting of clenched fists.
However, as I pointed out in the first paragraph, behind this showcase of visually disparate works, there is a significant structure that supports them: the notion of dis-identity. This absence of vital axis, or modern tare, the same day, glides through these works even involuntarily and points at the first landing to the absence of ONE subject.
Just when you thought López Pardo's black and white landscapes were radical, Linet has arrived to implant terror: nostalgia and desire disappear when the soul is dead. The pain is not singular but insular. With the subject dead, only the contexts in which he lived and developed remain, to which he yielded all his values and moods, as happens in the most authentic process of alienation: I disappear, I die in the process of giving you. What else are they, the seriously intervened photographs of Leo de la O, the desolation caused by the timeless landscapes of Maikel Sotomayor, or the empty home environments of Omar Tirado? How would you explain the infinite disintegration of this entire aquifer into fragments that are diluted according to the cultural framework, and that have constituted a substantial part of the creative ecosystem of Rafa Villares?
Even in those artists where the human body is represented, as in Alexander and Lancelot, it is nothing more than a body instead of a subject. In a brilliant essay by Jean Baudrillard on Andy Warhol, the Frenchman noted that Warhol's works were banal but not because they represented the world of consumption but because the figures in them were a "presence without desire": the man carried by the gravity of the masses and the bacchanals are the antipodes of the centered and triumphant subject. "Look at those faces, on the road, traced in charcoal / Although they are not silent, they say nothing...". In them, do not be deceived, the subject lacks the will and is incapacitated.