A rendezvous with time, from the fleeting permanence of a photographic image, is the latest attraction at the National Museum of Fine Arts since September 21st. Labelled as La imagen sin límites. Exposición antológica de fotografía cubana (An unbound image. An anthological exhibition of Cuban photography), one hundred images portrayed by fifty photographic artists has overwhelmed the third floor-based transitional room at the Cuban Art Building. They have been able to grasp, with rigour and authenticity, moments, scenes and figures, remaining as perpetuated thanks to their sharp gaze.
A tour through a vision raised in Cuba, encouraged by the analogical era and its surrogate digital technology, was outlined by photography scholar Rafael Acosta de Arriba, departing from the late 19th Century. Specifically, the war snapshots taken by Spanish José Gómez de la Carrera dates back to 1895, followed by Joaquin Blez’s curatorially aesthetizing approach. Along with Blez, expressions of studio photography, such as the female nude and the portrait itself, with which the author established a paradigm, make their debut in the room.
The tour goes on and calls fairly at the artists’ appreciations who were members of the Photographic Club of Cuba (1935-1962), and who focused their sight on city, its inhabitants, its architecture, and on experimenting inside the art form. Pictures portrayed by Generoso Funcasta, Constantino Arias and Roberto Rodríguez Decall, among others, highlight the new themes scanning, clearly depicted with a high level of artistry.
The presence of the Sixties’ epic photography is unavoidable at the room, from the snapshots of such authors as Raúl Corrales, Korda, Ernesto Fernández and Pepe Agraz; in alternation and explicit contrast with the easiness stemming from printed portraits of widely known artists like Wifredo Lam, Amelia Peláez and National Poet Nicolás Guillén. However, the documentary aspect, driven towards the registration of historical events, personalities, and economic and social transformations, went beyond the Sixties by showing reliable examples over the following two decades, with pictures of photographers Ramón Grandal, Iván Cañas or Enrique de la Uz, just to name a few.
Another set of exhibits brings together artists who take on postmodern codes at a wrong time, being imposed upon elsewhere on the world since the 1960s. The desecration sometimes marked on titles, the ambiguity, the prevalence of the conceptual aspect, the fusion of manifestations and meanings around the human being are some of this new stage features. They are evident for instance in Marta María Pérez, René Peña, Cirenaica Moreira, and Ernesto Javier Fernández, and in José Manuel Fors, with his installations of La sombra dilatada (The dilated shadow) and Atados de memoria (Bound by heart).
The vision change promoted by these and other photographers from the Nineties is deeper on younger artists’ presentations. Yanahara Mauri or Rodney Batista, in an open and creative manner, flirt with art history, like dating and questioning it. They use formal resources embracing a steady experimentation and tackling current or secular themes; but with a contemporary vision which may weaver between grotesque and poetry.
The exhibition then reveals itself as a plausible event, not only because of the presented display, but also because of bringing together times, aesthetics, themes, ways of envisaging and expressing photography, by marking continuities and turning points or ruptures. La imagen sin límites is thus translated paradoxically into a condensed synthesis of a story narrated by accurate glimpses from an abiding short-lived outlook.