They make us believe that the world is understandable.
Who controls the map has power (…)
and at the same time everything it contains is a mystery.1
The establishment of maps is a persistent drive in global symbolic production. To control space, propose readjustments, hyperbolize routes, distinguish geographic zones and falsify morphologies are some of the modus operandi that characterize this scene. From the classicism of the Flemish school of painting to the challenging stance of the surrealists2 there is a wide esthetic range that operates on the same support. A dynamics that has extended up to post-modernity with formal plural strategies as well as in the order of meanings.
Within the Cuban context in particular, creation in the visual arts that brandishes cartography as its base has moved from the univocal national reference to a necessary confrontation with other latitudes that are meeting points with our individual and collective vicissitudes. To this strong tradition defended by Ibrahim Miranda, Abel Barroso and Reynerio Tamayo are recently added Donis Llago and Yoao Hojas, two young artists who have decided to test these coordinates starting with the series Royal Coll3 (2014). This series constitutes a group of mock-ups describing urban segments of Havana, Spain and Mexico, just to mention some of the spaces brought to mind.
Said in this way it would not go beyond an ordinary exercise by some architecture student, when we indeed find ourselves before a work that gains in uniqueness for the well-chosen selection of material, poorly aided but with complex overtones on the Island; I am referring to cables that transmit energy. Based on the fragmentation of ropes in different portions, arteries are drawn that give meaning to these contradictorily disconnected cities. From our borders? From our interactive outreach? From their own reality?
A sort of chaos, concealed in the visual order proposed by the planned areas. The symbolism contained in the royal coll as a network that enables communications –as a synonym of progress, as a transmitter of light– when seen broken fosters a critical vision that emerges from the unconscious of that island being, distant from the world, observer of fractions, separated from a larger conglomerate.
In their maps, Donis and Yoao function finding support in the apparent; the first work-receiver encounter seduces the retina. The sinuous road design they drew out of each plan, together with the sparkling coloring of the metal fibers used, makes one think of abstract compositions unrelated to any need of content. Only the second reading by an impatient eye places us in the fields of reference injected by both authors with these devices of strong semantic value. Such subtlety urges locating multiple interpretative nodes, irrespective of the signaling that these works reinstate before our geographic patrimony.
1. Estrella de Diego (Spanish essayist and art critic)
2. Recall the map published by the surrealists in 1929 for the magazine Variété. They omitted Spain and Portugal on the earth globe, reduced China and extended Mexico, as they understood it. All of it with an analytic base of strong socio-political substrate.
3. Name of the cable used as the primary material in this series.