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Alexis Esquivel | by Mattress Factory
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Alexis Esquivel

"Queloides" is an art exhibit that seeks to contribute to current debates about the persistence of racism in contemporary Cuba and elsewhere in the world. The exhibit was hosted at the Centro Wifredo Lam in Havana (April 16 - May 31, 2010), and is being transferred to the Mattress Factory (October 15, 2010 - February 27, 2011). The twelve artists invited to participate are renowned for their critical work on issues of race, discrimination, and identity. Several of them collaborated in three important exhibits in Havana between 1997 and 1999 (titled “Queloides I”, “Queloides II”, and “Neither Musicians nor Athletes”). The last two were curated by the late Cuban art critic Ariel Ribeaux. All these exhibits dealt with issues of race and racism in contemporary Cuba, issues that had been taboo in public debates in the island for decades. “Keloids” are wound-induced scars. Although any wound may result in keloids, many people in Cuba believe that black skin is particularly susceptible to them. Thus the title evokes the persistence of racial stereotypes, on the one hand, and the traumatic process of dealing with racism, discrimination, and centuries of cultural conflict, on the other. "Queloides" includes several art forms--paintings, photographs, installations, sculptures, videos--and offers novel ways to ridicule and to dismantle the so-called racial differences.

 

The artists, who were all born in Cuba, include Pedro Álvarez, Manuel Arenas, Belkis Ayón, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Roberto Diago, Alexis Equivel, Armando Mariño, René Peña, Marta María Pérez Bravo, Douglas Pérez, Elio Rodíguez, and José Toirac/Meira Marrero.

 

"This is the first time in post-revolutionary Cuba the word ‘racism’ has appeared in the title of an exhibition. Because of this, I have now been banned from Cuba. It is a high price to pay, but we must do what we can to help break the official silence on racism.”

– Alejandro de la Fuente, Co-Curator of "Queloides"

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Taken on April 16, 2010