Fables or Unfinished Stories

By Maeva Peraza

History and its rewritings have always represented sources of tension when it comes to dealing with the veracity of reality. The positions associated with the act of telling the historical fact have continuously experienced biases and biased views, according to the interest, group or individual, which recalls the anonymous maxim: «history is always told by the winners». But it is necessary to point out the presence of fluctuating stories, which are built on the margin, focused on otherness and individuality; in this sense history resembles a vital journey, full of bifurcations and ambiguities.

The exhibition La historia es larga, la vida es corta, by Antonio Espinosa, evidences these individual searches, carrying out a collective survey of topics that make up the artist’s personal history, although in that eagerness it is possible to find traces of the history of the nation, the region or the space occupied, according to the conflicting fact that «being» always entails. The involvement of the artistic object, at the time of shaping history, reinforces the fictional criteria used to apprehend reality; in this case the fable uses dissimilar objects, which from their functionality and representation, transgress their usual semantics to reflect a transit full of critical nuances, where the object relates, explains from its own signifier and provides historicity, from its subversion.

The fact that the object «comments», «dialogue», must be understood in the exhibition as a weighting of the load of historicity that presents everything that exists, from the moment in which the value of use of the object in question implies its history; so that Antonio Espinosa proposes multiple histories or multiple historicities, where things tell, in new semiotics, the history of them and also that of all.

The work «Sujeto colectivo», illustrates the author’s intention to speak from the «other». The triptych seeks, from the visibilization and multiplicity, to show an achievement of psychological states in which the human being annuls his individuality in order to submerge himself in a communicative entropy. Stamps, boxes of medicines and sweets, are only a pretext to enter into processes such as alienation and conformity, common in a society that Antonio Espinosa wants us to recognize.

The works «Resistance» and «Revolution», on the other hand, are twinned by the fact that they use the graphics of the words themselves in the representation. The empty boxes and the seals of the Cuban Communist Party form significant entities, which have become empty slogans over the years; in the same way, the group «Renunciation and Ambiguity» advocates the exhibition of certain patriotic slogans or hymns, pronounced in huge speeches and public gatherings. Phrases such as: «…my first obligation», «…many years of struggle», «…the revolutionary work»; are antecedents with which the artist alludes to historical periods and social conflicts, which derived in a fracture of the preceding orders.

The history evoked by Antonio Espinosa through the works exhibited is as intimate as it is plural; it is a product of the collective memory, where the spectator recognizes his own history; since the stories proposed by the artist open up so that the receiver completes his meaning, from the evocation, from the remembrance.

In this sense, the works «Image of my memory» and «History», allude to the inclusive and plural factor of memory, which makes the pieces present a sense of collectivity. In the first case, we witness the resounding image of the sea, which has marked and conditioned the history of the nation, based on the exchange, the journey, the exodus. The second work, which stands out within the exhibition because of its play with dimensions, takes advantage of the word’s graphics to (re)construct a concept of historicity that is more attached to the Cuban context. The kind of bookcase that the piece symbolizes, in an installation effort, houses books referring to the history of Cuba and its top managers. It is, in this case, the apparently happy union of books recognized and endorsed by the State and others, which respond to a different discourse, written by the «detractors» or dissidents of the regime. Antonio Espinosa allows to glimpse the variability of all historical construction as fictional construction; hence these rewritings are essential.

The fables presented in the exhibition The Story is Long, Life is Short, start from a common memory, although they transgress and expand it, play with it and maximize it from the works. We then witness an unfinished re-writing, which thickens its lines from the creation, allowing the story to increase and become endless, while the vital breath becomes, inevitably, shorter.