Yanelys Nuñez Leyva
HAVANA TIMES — “As a gesture of solidarity with the Palestinian people, Cuban artist Luis Manuel Alcantara made a gift to this nation through that country’s embassy in Havana, consisting of a group of home-made weapons collected from different neighborhoods around Havana. With this gesture, Alcantara expresses the fraternal spirit that has characterized the Cuban government in its struggle for world peace.”
The above lines make up the press the note this artist has been circulating through different means (e-mails, social networks and other digital fora) in recent days.
The series, titled Chong Chon Gang, stems from the first anniversary of the detention of the North Korean vessel of the same name, on which undeclared Cuban armaments were found.
However, one of the artist’s major preocupations is the Isreali-Palestinian conflict.
The performance begins with the purchase of weapons from young people living in marginal Havana neighborhoods, known in the underground as “injectors” (in reference to the fact these are assembled from car pieces). These are used as weapons in some neighborhoods around the Cuban capital.
The work is then developed in two parallel directions. One is the sending of an e-mail to the Palestinian Embassy in Havana, offering a donation of these weapons, and the publication of the press note in all conceivable spaces.
Though these actions may be interpreted as pro-war at first glance or upon reading the press note in question, they are exactly the opposite of this.
When we look at the title of the work and see the photos of the makeshift (but nonetheless dangerous) weapons, we glimpse the true essence of the piece.
With a tongue-in-cheek tone and taking advantage of the broad scope of the media, Luis Manuel Alcantara risks divulging fictional information that, though clearly part of an artistic project, can well turn against him, as the possession of any type of weapon is illegal in Cuba.
Do the “injectors” in question actually work?
I am sure the artist would not answer this question and tell me that the important thing is the artistic intent behind the weapons.
The weapons are merely a means of attacking pre-conceived notions and violent attitudes and actions.