Makarov, or the suicide of utopia

Leonid Lopez
Leonid Lopez

People are always searching for salvation in their future. Liberty is one of the names we give this goal, this final stopping point. Art can be viewed as a river down which you flow, guided by its course. Its waters that wrap around you, pushing your body into a whirlpool until you drown, is at the same time an elixir that saves you. Utopia is that dream of resurrection, the shocking vibration that frees you, passing through the pain that comes from banging against the rocks.

If we accept utopia, it’s as a bridge to a better life. If we trust it with the role of keeping dreams alive, we have to find a path for it. Art is the oldest vehicle we have to bring human kind into the same family with his/her dreams. We need to follow its course, then, to see if it takes us to a good port.

In the most recent Cuban art, we can note the marked intention of meddling in reality, digging it up with the intention of renewing it. Moreover, its range, in the majority of cases, is limited to a description of the rocks that get in the way of the flow. The old story of people who search for a better life and their struggle against an oppressive power is poor in causality and intention.

Although the proposal to change roles can be praiseworthy, with the desire to see the Quixote’s triumph one day: the prostitutes against the police, the dark-skinned of the barrio against the white man in his mansion, the homosexual over the prejudices, those discriminated against over the opportunists; art should not be a weak trial of frustrations where neither the plaintiff nor the defendant offers powerful reasons that give us a rich vision of life and thus make it worth our while accepting the invitation to participate.

When the balance inclines easily towards the guilty party, the trial becomes nothing more than a formal proceeding. In this case we have to say, no, enough of a picturesque unveiling of pain, instead of the value of the gesture, the image or the word, its depth and healing sense.

I remember a play by the Teatro del Circulo theater group called Makarov. By my criteria, it was one of these pieces of false flight and easy judgment, overflowing with spectacle and lack of depth. Makarov is a Russian pistol from the Soviet era that in the Cuba of the eighties was an important symbol of power. With this, the protagonist of the play commits suicide at the end. If we accept art as a river of salvation in this difficult and noble dream of understanding and enriching reality, we should not let it become a species of pathetic pirouettes, wilted poetry and alienated and poor advice.

We need to be careful about addressing the symptoms and not the disease, the rocks that bruise and not the liberating river; we wouldn’t want to find out one day that, full of shame, utopia committed suicide.