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U.Va. Art Museum Exhibit Sheds Light On ‘Cuban Art Today’

October 10, 2005 --

What:      “Mi Cuerpo, Mi País: Cuban Art Today”
When:      Oct. 26- Dec. 23
Where:     U.Va. Art Museum

ALSO:      Gallery Talk          
Nov. 5, 2 p.m.

Often working with limited resources, contemporary Cuban artists are pushing the boundaries of expression and technique. Their subject matter plays on both literal and metaphoric levels, exploring concepts of personal and national identity.

The University of Virginia Art Museum special exhibition “Mi Cuerpo, Mi País: Cuban Art Today” showcases a range of work by contemporary Cuban artists drawn from the collection and on loan to the museum. The exhibition is presented in conjunction with the Virginia Film Festival and its theme “In/Justice.” 

Over the past four years, museum director Jill Hartz and Advisory Board member Irwin Berman and his wife, Linda, traveled to Cuba, where they met artists, developed relationships with galleries and acquired a number of works in a range of media by Juan Carlos Alom, Augustin Beharanjo Caballero, Nelson Dominguez, José Fors, Aimée Garcia, Eduardo Hernandez, José Armando Mariño, Ibrahim Miranda, Cireneica Moreira and Raul Corrales. Subsequently, the museum purchased works by Arturo Montoto, Raul Peña.

An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, which is supported by the Arts Enhancement Fund, Dr. and Mrs. Irwin Berman, and the FUNd at the Charlottesville Albemarle Community Foundation.

Museum director Hartz and curator Andrea Douglas will present a gallery talk about the exhibition on Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. in the museum. The talk is free and open to the public.

Three Cuban films will be shown this fall that further our understanding of Cuban history and culture, and the environment in which Cuban artists create their work today. The films are described below. Two films are featured in the OFFScreen program, and are shown in Newcomb Hall: admission is $3.

Sunday, Oct. 16 at 7 and 9:30 p.m.  Newcomb Hall, $3 admission.
“Young Rebels”

This 2005 U.S.-Cuban production, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, follows seven Cuban hip-hop artists and producers over the course of a summer as they prepare to perform in Havana's 9th Annual National Hip-Hop Festival. Battling on the stage and at home, the characters' personal travails collide in a summer of explosive concerts, unbearable heat and rising tensions as the Rap Agency, a newly-founded state cultural institution, organizes the festival for the first time. The agency's involvement divides artists, producers and fans, sparking intense debate about the definition of Cuban hip-hop. “’Young Rebels’ is essential viewing for anyone interested in rap music, free speech issues or the youth culture of contemporary Cuba,” said Dana Stevens of the New York Times. 

Sunday, Dec. 4 at 7 and 9:30 p.m.  Newcomb Hall, $3 admission.
“I Am Cuba”

Russian director Mikheil Kalatozishvili started to make this 1965 film only one week after the Cuban missile crisis. The result is a wildly schizophrenic celebration of Communist kitsch, mixing Slavic solemnity with Latin sensuality. The film feverishly explores the decadent world of Batista's Cuba, juxtaposing images of rich Americans and bikini-clad beauties sipping cocktails poolside with scenes of ramshackle slums filled with hungry children. Using wide-angle lenses that distort and magnify, the acrobatic camera achieves wild gravity-defying angles as it glides effortlessly through long continuous shots. But “I Am Cuba” is not just a catalog of bravura technique, it also succeeds in exploring the innermost feelings of the characters and their often desperate situations, creating what L.A. Weekly calls “one of the most deliriously beautiful films ever made.”

Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. Vinegar Hill, $8 admission, free to Film Society members.
“I am Cuba, the Siberian Mammoth”
Vicente Ferraz's 2005 documentary is a fascinating trip through the making of Kalatozov's 1964 masterpiece, “I Am Cuba.” Requiring an unprecedented 14 months of shooting, Kalatozov’s movie was the first and only Cuban/Soviet co-production was intended as a celebration of Castro's revolution. Why then was the film rejected by Cubans and Soviets alike upon its release and shelved for more than 30 years until it was rediscovered and championed in the 1990s by North Americans, including Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola? Through a combination of breathtaking shots from the original film and interviews with surviving Soviet and Cuban cast and crew members, Ferraz investigates the motives behind the banning of the film. The resulting documentary, “I am Cuba: The Siberian Mammoth,” provides insights into the ideology of the Cold War, the recent history of Cuba, and the great irony of  “I am Cuba,” which only the passage of time has been able to reveal.  Robert Keser in Bright Lights Film Journal summed up the movie as follows: "One good movie deserves another... Ferraz assembled his fascinating investigation with generous clips from the movie plus behind-the-scenes footage of the two-year-long production... . As Ferraz contacts the various survivors, he brings news of the long-delayed appreciation for their efforts, eliciting some puzzlement, but mostly providing a gratifying emotional payoff for this film."

The U.Va. Art Museum is open to the public free of charge Tuesday through Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For details about the exhibit or information about the museum, call (434) 924-3592, or visit the museum’s Web site at

Contact: Jane Ford, (434) 924-4298


FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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