A Voice for Young Art in Cuba

By Helson Hernandez

Gustavo González
Gustavo González

HAVANA TIMES — Gustavo Gonzalez (alias G-Rhymes) is one of the organizers of Mision Calle (Street Mission) and one of the young artists behind the album Pedazo de Cielo (“A Slice of Heaven”).

HT: What exactly is Mision Calle (MC) and what’s the philosophy behind it?

G-Rhymes: We are a kind of independent production company that aims to promote certain values through the arts. We set out to be confrontational with our products, in a respectful and inspiring way. Our aim is to bring about positive changes in attitude in those who listen to what we do.

HT: Is this an independent project or do you receive support from a State institution in the country?

G: Neither one. Mision Calle (MC) didn’t emerge from any institution, but we don’t operate like “lone riders” in our artistic work. The organizers of MC are members of the Hermanos Saiz Association (AHS) and, in a way, we always try to defend the work we do. As a production company, we do not belong to any institution, though we would like to. Hence the term “independent.” That said, we do have links to institutions, and I believe the most important thing is the work we do, not the institutional platform we may or may not have.

HT: Before Mision Calle, who was Gustavo Gonzalez, known as G-Rhymes today?

G: We have to go back in history. MC came into being as a production house in 2012, but it existed as an alternative magazine, or fanzine, before. That same year, I graduated as an industrial engineer from the Jose Antonio Echeverria University and we launched our first album as La Cruzada (“The Crusade”), a band I founded at the end of 2007 with Rodney Garcia Ro.

MC has become a way of managing and giving greater scope to an artistic discourse I’ve been developing for a long time. I always knew I was working towards something like this. That’s why I studied industrial engineering. I was convinced that finding a place for myself in the art world involved much more than being an artist. One is born an artist, but one has to train to become the manager of an arts project (though there may be some natural talent involved in that as well).

HT: What led you to launch that project?

La Cruzada
La Cruzada

G: MC doesn’t mark a pivotal point in my life. What has is the faith I have, which has made me a tireless fighter in defense of the good. I believe what best defines the reason for what we do isn’t motivation, but conviction. Motivation tends to fade after once all of the obstacles are overcome that stand in the way of a project, but conviction is the only thing that keeps you going, provided one is heading down the right path.

HT: Tell us about Pedazo de cielo, Mision Calle’s most recent artistic project.

G: Pedazo de cielo is a series of actions aimed at drawing people’s attention towards the importance of childhood. It is made up of a CD, recorded and produced by several artists at La Cruzada Estudios, MC’s record label, and a series of photographs authored by Eduardo Perez (“EDDOS”), which weave a coherent discourse about the issue, exploring nine different subjects. Pedazo de cielo casts an international glance at childhood and includes works that are removed from current, Cuban reality. I think it’s important to stress that Pedazo de cielo is not aimed at children, though it addresses the need to turn our gaze towards them, in a self-critical fashion.

HT: What is the aim of this interesting recording?

G: The same all of our work has: bring about positive attitude changes. In this case, in connection to children. We believe childhood is a crucial stage in everyone’s life and what we are unable to do for children today we won’t be able to do for them tomorrow. There are no hidden intentions in our work. Those who do nothing in light of negative practices often refuse to believe that others haven’t decided to do the same.

HT: Where does Mision Calle want to go?

G: Sincerely, as far as we are able to go. We don’t want to set our sights on fleeting goals or short-lived aspirations. I confess one needed a whole lot more faith back in 2012, when we were just starting out on our adventure, to believe that three short years later we would have gotten where we are now and to be convinced that we would be exhibiting our work at the international level in the near future.

HT: What is the opinion of the organizers of Mision Calle about Cuba’s new generations?

G: I believe they have everything we need, not only as a nation, but also as a species. We merely need to break with misguided paradigms in our behavior and actions that do us a lot of harm. I am talking about delving into each and every one of us and examining ourselves, to judge whether the way we live and act is in keeping with what we truly can and should do. I feel proud, in the humblest sense of the word, of being part of a young generation faced with the challenge of building the future.

HT: Do you believe independent initiatives receive all of the support they could from State institutions?

G: I believe much more can be done. The main thing would be to evaluate the proposals advanced by those who have no institutional support for their work in an unprejudiced manner. But I would be lying if I said there aren’t many possibilities within the reach of anyone who is truly interested in doing art.

HT: Do you have anything you wish to say to young people, or artists in particular?

G: This is not the time to lose focus, much less to be ignorant of the past and advance towards an uncertain future. Art has the ability to offer answers. Let us evaluate the types of answers we are offering with our art, and let those who do this rethink their position, for, without a doubt, a lot will be asked of those who have been given much.

Presentación dde Pedazo de cierlo
Presentación de Pedazo de cierlo