Tuesday, 30 December 2014


Open Letter
Vatican City, Italy.
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Dear Raúl, querido Obama, dear Pope Francis,

First let me offer congratulations, because politicians are expected to make history and today, December 17th, 2014, has been a historic day.

You have made history by proposing that the embargo/blockade become empty words. With the restoration of diplomatic relations, you have transformed the meaning of fifty-three years of policies defined by one side (the United States) and used by the other (Cuba) to ideologically guide the daily lives of Cubans everywhere. I wonder if this gesture is not also a proposal to kill ideology itself? Cuba is finally seeing itself, not from the perspective of death, but of life. But, I wonder, what will that life be and who will have the right to that new life?

Very well then, Raúl:

As a Cuban, today I call for the right to know what is being planned with our lives and, as part of this new phase, for the establishment of a politically transparent process in which we will all be able to participate, and to have the right to hold different opinions without punishment. When it comes time to reconsider what has defined who we are, that it not include the same intolerance and indifference which has so far accompanied changes in Cuba-a process in which acquiescence is the only option.

As a Cuban, today I demand there be no more privileges or social inequalities. The Cuban Revolution distributed privileges to those in government or deemed trustworthy (read: loyal) by the government. This has not changed. Privilege created the social inequalities under which we have always lived, inequalities which were then rationalized as a revolutionary meritocracy and are now being transformed into a reliable entrepreneurial class. I demand that the emotional and tangible rights of those who cannot participate in this new phase-those at the bottom-be protected.

As a Cuban, today I demand that we not be defined by the financial markets nor by how useful we can be to government. I call for equality for the Cuban who, due to the blockade/embargo, spent his life working in a factory only to come home a proud worker's hero but now has no place in a world of foreign investments and can only hope to receive a pension defined by the standards of socialist times, not by today's market economy. What is the plan, Raul, to avoid the same mistakes made by the countries from the former socialist camp? To avoid returning to the Cuba of 1958? How do we repair the emotional abuse the Cuban people have endured through the politics of recent years? How do we ensure there is social and material justice? How do we guarantee we will not become a colony, that we won't have to accept our new providers without question-as happened first with the Soviet Union and then with Venezuela?

As a Cuban, today I call for the right of peaceful protest in the streets to support or denounce any government decision without fear of reprisal. I call for the legal right to establish associations and political parties with platforms that differ from that of the ruling party. I call for the decriminalization of civic activism, civil society, and of those with different points of view. I demand that the legitimacy of political parties born of the popular will be recognized. I call for direct elections in which all political parties are allowed to participate, and for ideological discrepancies to be resolved with debate and not via acts of repudiation.

As a Cuban, today I demand the right to be a political being-not merely an economic entities or symbolic exchange to make history.

As a Cuban, Raúl, today I want to know the vision for the nation we are building.

As an artist, Raul, I propose you today to exhibit "Tatlin's Whisper #6" at the Plaza de la Revolución (Revolution Square). Let's open the microphones and let all voices be heard. Let's not offer just the clatter of coins to fulfill our lives. Let's turn on the microphones. Let's learn together to make something of our dreams.

Today I'd like to I propose that Cubans take to the streets wherever they may be on December 30th to celebrate, not the end of a blockade/embargo, but the beginning of our civil rights.

Let's make sure it's the Cuban people who will benefit from this new historic moment. Our homeland is what hurts us.

Tania Bruguera
Vatican City, December 17, 2014

Communique #1


Following the Open Letter sent by the artist Tania Bruguera to Cuban President Raúl Castro on December 17th, a volunteer civic platform sprung up from its key phrase, "I demand," with the purpose of gathering on December 30th at La Plaza de la Revolución in Havana to call for the political, economic, cultural and civil rights of Cuban citizens. #YOTAMBIENEXIJO is a public and inclusive platform.

The answer to the question "Who are we?" is none other than "Who am I?" If you are Cuban and you believe in the restitution of your rights, then this platform is you.


A call to Cubans to come peacefully to La Plaza de la Revolución in Havana on December 30th in order to use an open microphone to make a personal gesture in a public space. Speaking for ourselves is the first step toward the reclamation of our rights. Everyone has the floor. Make La Plaza de la Revolución the place for discussion and debate. LA PLAZA ES TU PLAZA.


Next December 30th at 3 P.M. EST, #YOTAMBIENEXIJO will gather, without violence and without fear, at La Plaza de la Revolución to transform it into a space of respect for diversity of opinions about what kind of country we want to build. True freedom means tolerance.

Press Release #1

Cubans call for a peaceful gathering in La Plaza de Revolución. After the joint announcement from Cuba and the U.S. about the reestablishment of diplomatic relations, Cuban citizens, based on the demands articulated in #YoTambienExijo, call for a peaceful gathering in Havana's historic Plaza de la Revolución on December 30th at 3 p.m. (local time) in order to discuss, via an open microphone, what kind of nation they want for themselves.

"It would be a personal gesture in a public space. Speaking for ourselves is the first step toward the reclamation of our rights. Everyone will have the floor. Make the La Plaza de la Revolución a space for discussion and debate", said the organizers of #YoTambienExijo. The group's Facebook FanPage added more than 1,000 likes in the first 24 hours after the historic news.

Following the Open Letter sent by Cuban artist Tania Bruguera to Cuban President Raúl Castro, the U.S. President Barack Obama and Pope Francis on December 17th, a civic, volunteer and non-partisan movement sprung up.

Based on the key phrase from the letter, "I demand," Cubans will reclaim their civil, political, economic and cultural rights. "#YOTAMBIENEXIJO is a public and inclusive platform. The answer to the question "Who are we?" is no other than "Who am I?" If you are Cuban and you do believe in the restitution of your rights, then this platform is you", states the call."Today, as a Cuban, I demand to be informed about the plans being made with our lives, and that, as part of this new stage, a process of political transparency be established; where we all can have a space of participation and the right to have a different opinion that won't be punished (...) "Today, as a Cuban, I want to know which is the idea of Nation that we are building", asserts Tania Bruguera in her Open Letter to the three Chiefs of State.

Communique #2
#YoTeInvito (I invite you) to our Plaza

Dear Cub@ns,

Following the news of December 17th that stirred our Nation, I sent a letter to the Cuban newspaper Granma (which, of course, was not published). After its publication by other press media, a group of Cuban citizens with no party affiliation reacted to a phrase in this letter that calls all Cubans to gather next December 30th at La Plaza to speak out at an open microphone.

They have created the platform #YoTambienExijo (http://www.facebook.com/YoTambienExijo) to which they have invited me, and so far, it has added more than 1000 persons with the common purpose of making real what was kind of a metaphor in my letter or maybe an unconscious desire that slipped out of my mind due to that day's commotion.

The idea is to get together at La Plaza on December the 30th at 15:00 in order to speak and discuss peacefully about what concerns us in these days, to be there and let others know of what we think and our reasons for it, in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect.

Let there be diversity of opinions and topics so we can discuss and talk among us all. We do not have any kind of agenda nor follow any particular ideology; we just want people to come, those that have not found a space to share their doubts or experiences, and those that felt they were not represented by the alternative spaces already open.

Let's all come: housewives, self-employed persons, movie makers, mechanics, taxi drivers, managers, sex workers, students, marginalized persons, teachers, retired persons, farmers, blue collar workers, in fact all; let's get together and think about what is the concept of nation that we want to build and put into practice. We are not going to celebrate the potential ending of the embargo; we want to celebrate the birth of our rights. On this day we are not going to claim our rights, instead we are going to exercise our rights.

It would be great to interact with you on that day at La Plaza, as a direct reference to a work I did at the 2009 Bienal de la Habana, where I set a microphone that was used by those who stood for the Revolution, those who criticized it, those who couldn't understand our reality, those who were afraid, and those who tried to vocalize their right to express their ideas.

It would be an honor to have you there. See you on December 30th at La Plaza. A different Plaza, our Plaza.

Tania Bruguera
Yo También Exijo

Declaration of Principles for Artistic Action
Ten instructions to activate "Tatlin's Whisper# 6"

Given the fact that art leads to multiple interpretations.

Given the diversity of views that are summoned there and the passion with which Cubans defend their ideas.

Given the fact that we have received proposals from Cubans around the world who also want to speak from their Plaza.

Given the peaceful nature of the #YoTambienExijo platform that promotes the meeting of the 30th of December.

We want to provide access to instructions, so that this work may be performed with us in Havana, or elsewhere.

Ten instructions to activate the work "Tatlin's Whisper# 6"
(Note: Before starting the work a person explains the rules to all present).

1. The microphone is open for anyone who wants to use it.

2. Each person has a minute to speak whereupon should leave the microphone to those who follow and respect the right of others to express themselves on equal terms.

3. Each group to perform this piece can choose in what way they will indicate that the intervention time is over. We suggest: clapping, finger snaps, a buzzer alarm sound, a musical instrument.

4. The main rule of this work is that ALL reviews are welcome and the audience may NOT stop the intervention. If someone disagrees he/she can use its minute at the microphone to offer a different opinion.

5. Each person involved in the performance will speak from his/her point of view. No spokespersons or alternative institutions or government groups will be accepted. It is a public but individual action.

6. Vulgarity, swearword, curse, calls to violence, discrimination or affronts to the integrity of individuals, shall not be accepted.

7. Illegal acts or violent actions against public order are not accepted.

8. The length of the work is up to the public. In the event the work spans for several hours and recurrent ideas are detected, the audience can resolve to establish a new 'open mic' to talk about a specific topic. Whenever a new group starts, the rules will be explained again.

9. The order of speakers will be determined by the order in which the word is requested. The order of speakers should be respected.

10. The work is an Art Space where we all can design our desires and our human imaginaries.


Press Release #2
Cuban artist will perform on Havana Square

The aim of the artistic performance "Tatlin's Whisper # 6" that Cuban artist Tania Bruguera will perform at La Plaza de la Revolución of the city of Havana, Cuba, on December 30th at 15:00 (local time), is that Cubans peacefully express the ideas they have about their nation and its future, after the re-establishment of relations between Cuba and the United States.

"The work is an artistic event that will allow Cubans to speak with their own voice on issues that concern them on the verge of a new year," said Bruguera, who is widely recognized throughout Cuba and abroad for her work and reflections on the social role of art. For a full minute, any Cuban attending the performance may claim his/her rights and talk about his/her dreams and everyday problems. Similar to the performance "Tatlin's Whisper # 6", held on the Havana Biennial 2009 at an ‘open microphone'. This will render all attendees have their turn to speak.

The initiative is an example of political art and the role of art in society. "It's what I call ‘Art Made for a political specific timing', which can be translated as a work done for a particular context and political situation," says the artist. "Performances and initiatives such as that to be held in La Plaza are usual in other countries. The social and artistic movements have always been connected, one of the soundest cases in Latin America was that of ‘Tucumán Arde', for example," says Bruguera, who has her home-studio in Cuba and lives among the United States, France and in any country where her work develops.

In Letter to Pope Francis this December 26th before leaving to Cuba, Bruguera said: "Dear Pope, our freedom is also in your protection. We need your blessing at a time when we have clearly in mind the words of John Paul II, who in that same Plaza asked Cubans not to be afraid, to open to the world, so that the world could open to us."

The artistic action will be a peaceful event where calls to violence, discrimination, affronts to the integrity of individuals, illegal acts or violent actions against public order, will not be tolerated or accepted, the artist clarified in the letter addressed to the Pope.

At a meeting on Saturday December 27th with Bruguera, the President of the National Council of Arts, Ruben del Valle, made clear that the state agency does not support the organization, disclosure, or legal procedures necessary for carrying out the work. Bruguera then confirmed: "The work will be performed. This is a contribution of Art to the necessary discussion of ideas in Cuban society. "

Useful Art for a better society

Civil Platform #YoTambienExijo emerged as a result of the Open Letter Bruguera forwarded on December 17th to Pope Francis, President Barack Obama, and Cuban President Raul Castro in response to the announcement of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States. The Platform brings together dozens of Cubans inside and outside of Cuba on behalf of human rights.

"Processes like this expand the borders of the world, and as Cuba is part of the world, we see this as a very positive deed for Cuban society, to be involved in global art and human rights movements, promoting and rescuing the faith for a better world" defended the Cuban artist. Bruguera, spokesperson for the Platform, said the action is based on the need for Cubans to publicly share their expectations on the surprising political shift between the island and the United States. "Cubans have the right to ask questions and to receive answers," justified the artist.

As for the Platform #YoTambienExijo, she said that it "was born as an inclusive project with no political affiliation or belief, from concerns among friends, acquaintances of acquaintances, but without any experience in activism and leadership within Cuban civil society."

. See FanPage #YoTambienExijo: www.facebook.com/YoTambienExijo
. See Facebook Event: www.facebook.com/events/1515487705372907
. See Open Letter at Blog www.taniabruguera.com
. Twitter: @yotambienexijo
. Press Contact: Email: exige@yotambienexijo.org

"Neither slaves, nor consumers. Let's be Citizens." #YoTambienExijo

Sunday, 28 December 2014


Smiljan Radic's renovation of the Chilean Museum of Precolombian Art in Santiago, Chile, located in the old Royal Custom's house

the covered arcade of the building serves as an internal street

the main patio contains the museum's shop inside a cristal box, the cafe, and the ticket counter, all under a plastic air bubble ceiling

the second patio is open to the air, and contains different usable rock sculptures

up to the archeological corridors, down to the exhibition bunker

up the stairs to the American continent archeological rooms

the corridors and rooms upstairs exhibiting archeological relics from other cultures of the continent, including Inca and Maya

and down the dark stairs to the new extension, the Chile before Chile room, an anthropological bunker designed by Smiljan Radic containing precolombian treasures of the territory now known as Chile, which exist as illuminated by their aura within the architectonic penumbra

and amazing Quipus in the main exhibition room

Smiljan Radic
Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino
Extension and Refurbishment
Santiago, Chile 2014

See proper architecture photos by Cristobal Palma here

with thanks to Irene, Elodie and Alfonso from Chaco Art Fair for their invitation to Santiago

Saturday, 27 December 2014


Pavilion of Venezuela, designed by architect Alejandro Pietri in 1955 for the Feria de la Paz y la Confraternidad del Mundo Libre (Fair of Peace and Confraternity of the Free World) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

'Christ is coming' in the window shield of the mini van

The Pavilion of Venezuela in Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana was designed by architect Alejandro Pietri as one of the buildings for the 1955 Feria de la Paz y la Confraternidad del Mundo Libre (Fair of Peace and Confraternity of the Free World) which was organised by dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his rule.

Today the building is managed by the Society of Dominican Architects, and waits to be hopefully respectfully restored, while chickens roam freely and Christian Evangelist groups gather outside waiting for the arrival of Christ, or the collapse of the building, whatever comes first.

with thanks to Engel Leonardo

Friday, 26 December 2014


Engel Leonardo, 'Rejas, Sillas, Vestidos, Muñecas y Plátano' organized by Ramos Mederos at the Museo del Hombre Dominicano in Santo Domingo

and a conversation between Engel Leonardo and Pablo Leon de la Barra about the exhibition, with the support of Davidoff Art Initiative

The facade of the Museo del Hombre Dominicano in Santo Domingo which inaugurated the 12th of October of 1972 (with sculptures outside of an african slave, a priest, an indigenous taino)

The Museo del Hombre Dominicano in Santo Domingo which although dusty, dormant and forgotten, still has its original museography and exhibition design.

Engel Leonardo
Rejas, Sillas, Vestidos, Muñecas y Plátano
Museo del Hombre Dominicano, Santo Domingo
press release

Ramos Mederos Gallery presents Rejas, Sillas, Vestidos, Muñecas y Plátano (bars, chairs, dresses, dolls and plantain), the first solo exhibition by artist Engel Leonardo. Open from November 4th to the 30th at the Museo del Hombre Dominicano (Museum of the Dominican Man) in the Plaza de la Cultura in Santo Domingo.

The exhibition is presented within the framework of interventions carried out by Ramos Mederos in various areas of the city as a way to create new dialogues between the artwork and the public. This time the Gallery is housed on the third floor of the Museum of the Dominican Man, a public institution dedicated to the conservation, research and dissemination of the national anthropological and ethnological heritage.

Within this context Engel Leonardo proposes a series of pieces made from his travel research, and the collection and documentation of traditional craft practices of the Dominican countryside. Creating works that are based on contemplation, observation and the detailed study of the elements, features and aesthetic languages that represent a valuable sample of the popular aesthetics and craftsmanship of the island.

Rejas, Sillas, Vestidos, Muñecas y Plátano (bars, chairs, dresses, dolls and plantain) consists of five series which express Leonardo’s interest in Dominican and Caribbean culture through formal exploration, creating a catalog of elements and objects from our culture transformed into geometry and color and in which converge new and interesting techniques, as well as a mixture of different materials.

The series of sculptures in Moca, are based on the study of the faceless dolls created in Higüerito, Moca in the 1970s, and popularized in the 80s and 90s. Made of local clay and Guayacán, he revisits this Dominican icon, a symbol of Caribbean mixing, bringing the original’s abstraction from the face to the rest of the structure.

La Otra Banda is a series of dresses created from research trips and documentation of vernacular architecture in the communities of La Otra Banda and Villa Jaragua, located in the extreme east and west of the country. These pieces carry the architectural, competitive, formal and chromatic elements from wood to fabric, a new proposal for clothing that allows you to dress up in popular architecture motifs.

Yamasá is composed by three sculptures that are based on abstractions and formal explorations on the traditional design of the guano chair, maintaining its proportions and retrying their structures, blurring the border between craft and art, between the utilitarian and the contemplative.

The Cibao printed series, is the first two-dimensional work presented by Leonardo, and with it proposes new pictorial forms, using the juice of the banana peel as ink or stain, extracted and applied directly with the hand on Arches paper they suggest the reliefs of the Cibao and the Cordillera Central.

In the Vevés bar series the artist uses the basic structure of a protective grate, a typical element of the Dominican contemporary surroundings as a canvas. On this occasion representing Vêves, traditional symbols of Haitian and Dominican Vodou, through abstract synthesis and color.

Engel Leonardo was born in Baní, Dominican Republic in 1977. A graduate of the Faculty of Arts of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo with complementary studies in the Altos de Chavón School of Design (affiliated to the Parsons School of Design in NY). Some selected exhibitions: Rejas, Sillas, Vestidos, Muñecas y Plátano (bars, chairs, dresses, dolls and plantain) Galería Ramos Mederos; Pedernales, Teorética, San José, Costa Rica; UNFOLD, Ramos Mederos, Santo Domingo; Moderno Tropical, Engel Leonardo and Laura Castro, 27th National Biennale of Visual Arts, Museo de Arte Moderno, Santo Domingo;Construction: New Perspectives on the Dominican Identity, William Road Gallery, London, UK; Status Quoand sample of video art, Museo de Arte Moderno, Santo Domingo; On Common Ground, Art Museum of the Americas, Washington D.C. Awards: 27th National Biennale of Visual Arts for Moderno Tropical; selected in the call for emerging artists in emergency - volcanic context, Teorética, San José, Costa Rica; Selected in the Solo Project Latin America, ARCO, Madrid, Spain; selected by Worldwide Storefront for Art and Architecture with the project Tropical Ghosts.

On Engel Leonardo's Work
Regina José Galindo

“When I think of the Caribbean I think of the unrelenting Sun, of the great waves of people, of the large parties that suddenly come together, of excess. Excess of blue skies, excess of light, excess of heat, excess of air conditioning, excess of moisture, excess of green landscapes, excess of rain, excess of mosquitoes, excess of potholes, excess of jeeps, excess ofcolmados, excess of public cars, excess of moto taxis, excess of salami, excess of meat pastries, excess of frying, excess of fried chicken, excess of rum, excess of beer, excess of quickies, excess of fierce women, excess of fierce men, excess of beaches that take your breath away, excess of coconuts, excess of coconut candy, excess of ripe fruit. Excess of Russians in Punta Cana, excess of police extortion, excess of racism, excess of lawsuits, excess of decibels, excess of bachata, excess of merengue, excess of dembow. Excess of music everywhere, excess of parties everywhere, excess of friends everywhere, excess of happiness everywhere.

Therefore, it seems a great and surprising contradiction to years later encounter the work of Engel Leonardo. His projects are exquisitely conceived by the spirit of the tropics, they are imminently Caribbean, they exude it, and yet are all but excessive. They are like that other side of the Caribbean, calm, moderate, precise. Like small poems (or Visual haikus of Dominican origin) lacking or sparing nothing.

After his ceramic centerpiece depicting a fried chicken with tostones, and other work done in collaboration with the group Shampoo, Engel’s language began to take new directions. Synthesis and abstraction replaced narrative which was promptly relegated by the investigation of the form. It seems as if he went through a complex and arduous cleaning process from which he emerged renovated, balanced, with a nearly zen meditative energy. That could explain the origin of work as carefully produced as Moderno Tropical, carried out in collaboration with Dominican artist Laura Castro. A fascinating intervention of the Museum of Modern Art in Santo Domingo, where suddenly the Balaguer architecture of the building was modified by sophisticated architectural details that gave new life and new air to the space. I only saw it in photos, I did not have the experience of being in the space, but the images were enough to transport me to the terrace of a house in Baní or an afternoon al fresco in the porch of a Victorian house in Puerto Plata.

It would also explain the fact of having produced pieces as refined as Moca, the series inspired by the typical Dominican faceless dolls. Beautiful sculptures in clay, glaze and Guayacá n with round forms and spindly necks which through geometric figures refer to the mystery and voluptuousness of the women of the region, strong workers and peasants; or Pedernales a series of abstract sculptures inspired by the typical Dominican guano chairs; or the palm tree hats transformed into baseball caps; or the wonderful series of sculptures Cordillera, Isla y Antillas great landforms processed by Engel and by the hands of local artisans, into sober minimalist pieces that remind us of the color, complexity of and diversity of the Caribbean.

But what does it all matter? what relevance does it have to explain the creative processes? If at the end what matters is what emerged from them. And being more precise, perhaps we could say that in fact there was no such break or change. Perhaps the work of Engel had always been thus. Fresh, clean, refined. Just as he is. An artist with an exquisite taste, a delicious friend. The most polite of my friends, the most distinguished. My stylish tropical friend, which like his work, is not lacking or sparing anything.”