Intervention of the San Ignacio street from Plaza de la Catedral to Plaza Vieja in La Habana Vieja – Historic City Center, for Dynamics of the Urban Culture, 9th Biennial of Habana. Organized by Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam. March – April 2006
The elevation of the low
Gold stays for the High, the Sublime, the Sacred. Through gilding an object you elevate it to a higher level and value. Through gilding the lowest and most ignored objects of the street (sewers, drainage’s, water pipes, wastebasket, etcetera) we rescue them from their “invisibility” and point out their function and importance.
Without those elements no city in the world would function. A water sewer is as important as a beautiful functional building even if the tourists or the own inhabitants of the city would not notice them.
To elevate the low is actually nothing new in art, one can go back to Altamira. Since the Renaissance, when the artists start to shift the focus from the sacred to the worldly, the “low” motives of daily life have being painted, sculptured, singed, photographed, filmed. What it does make the difference here is the context and the site specific, public space situation. Cuba today and gold in the streets. An explosive contra-position. The context is the point. One thing is to move an over decorated construction machine to an art space or a fakir to an art biennial room or a basket ball in a aquarium to an art gallery. The construction machine never went back to a working situation but to a museum’s collection as an exclusive art piece, the ball never played basketball, same for all the other art objects. Here the objects never leave it’s own context or function, they never change identity, but the “art” came to “re-value” them.
Even the “lowest” elements are important, vital, for every society, the people of Havana understood that very well and like it.
To give a value to the “low”… Wasn’t that the intention of Castro’s revolution? To gild the day…