Yanelys Nunez Leyva
HAVANA TIMES — I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write this article. Perhaps because I’ve had too many emotions running through my mind recently: anger, anxiety, disappointment, discomfort. Feelings which haven’t allowed me to reflect calmly upon the situation.
However, I’ll try and narrate the events in the most self-controlled way I can.
It’s been a few months now that I’ve been taking part, alongside Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, in creating a work of art titled: “The Cuban Museum of Dissent”. Our idea is to develop an online platform which features under the same title of “dissident”, patriotic leaders, leading figures in Cuban History, who have in some way rebelled against the political doctrines established by those in power.
The museum acts as an archive but also as a space for dialogue, where different political standpoints can be exchanged as there is also a blog where people can debate, write comments and make observations about this subject.
My role within this project is to coordinate tasks relating to another of its branches, the Museum of Politically Uncomfortable Art, where we have produced a historical overview using artist biographies and events which have or do express an attitude of dissent in the face of established Power, not only governmental, but also against Art’s own system.
As the Museum covers a broad range of topics, we aim to work with different contributors who will be responsible for researching in depth the many manifestations of dissent we are interested in.
Although we must highlight that currently, to give you a basic idea of what this project is in its early stages, the information found on the page comes from Wikipedia or our national equivalent Ecured, as they are the primary sources of most young Cuban people have to look for information offline, since as you know, we’re disconnected from the Internet.
We wanted to use the concept “Museum” because it’s a validating space which gives root to and freezes different processes in time and space.
The museum was premiered in El Ranchito del Matadero, in Madrid, Spain, where Luis Manuel was an artist in residence in February, as part of the Artist for Artist program, created by the Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa’s studio.
When he returned to Cuba, we gave an online interview to Cubanet where we voiced our general opinions about this project.
And it seems that that’s when all my problems began.
About two weeks ago, the editor of the official newspaper Noticias de Artecubano told me that, under the orders of her superior, Isabel Perez, two articles I’d written and which were ready to go to print, wouldn’t be published. Why? Because I was connected to the Cuban Museum of Dissent.
Then, around about the same time, at the Revolution and Culture magazine (my workplace), they told me that I should quit work for the same reason. And that if I didn’t agree with that, they would put into effect a resolution categorizing me as an “untrustworthy employee” and that this would kick me out of the center.
“Dishonored” and stuck in a corner, I told them to apply their mysterious resolution which I now await.
Some of my friends support my reaction and tell me that I need to fight, to defend myself. Others tell me the opposite. They tell me that I’m not thinking about my future and ask me why I’m walking down a narrow path. Not publishing in specialized official magazines anymore and leaving an art gallery where I could establish myself as a Cuban curator are some of the arguments they use to point out my mistaken position.
However, I believe that art has the power to change things. If we are able to plant even a tiny seed with this project, then everything else ceases to make sense. It’s not a question about burning your bridges but about creating change and not just dreaming about it. With this museum, we hope to break down orthodox views which aren’t leading us to any positive progress, and we’re demanding, from all sides, for a project which will build a prosperous Cuba.