Critics’ Picks

Carlos Garaicoa, Prêt-à-porter (Ready-to-wear), 2011, wooden table, glass, hat molds, hats, and ink on newspapers, 98 x 33 x 29”.


Carlos Garaicoa

Galería Elba Benitez
San Lorenzo 11
February 5 - March 26

In his work, the Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa searches for traces, relationships, and connections between the past and present as he interweaves reality and fiction, poetry and critique. His works transform space, creating palimpsests where “that mighty sculptor, time,” to quote Marguerite Yourcenar, has left its indelible mark. Through a constant tension between utopian and dystopian themes, his latest exhibition, “Party! Not Tea Party,” offers a model of investigation he previously applied to the microcosm of Castro’s Cuba, and which becomes more universal here.

Prêt-à-porter (Ready-to-wear, all works 2011), the centerpiece of the show, is an installation that mockingly explores the dynamics of power through a table display of flamboyant hats, hatmakers’ wooden molds, and satirical drawings on newspaper depicting world leaders wearing such headgear. The work denotes a corrosive critique of politicians who frequently change their political ideologies, as does “Head or Tails,” a series of silver coins with opposing leaders or oppositional words on either side, all forced to coexist in the space of the show. Continuing the theme of coins, The Tree of Abundance is a sculpture that, stylized and magnetized, draws in coins tossed by viewers, along with their desires.

Finally, a series of black-and-white digital photographic diptychs, titled “A day like any other when Havana stood still to remember Berlin,” investigates the city as a space of perception and mental projection by means of overlaid images of unrelated urban sites. These images become emblems of a complex aesthetic strategy that unites art, urban planning, and architecture with urgencies of a social, cultural, and political nature, conveying the social tensions, discontents, discomforts, and disturbances typical of our uncertain times.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.