Critics’ Picks

Maritza Molina, Carrying Tradition #2, 2005, C-print, 50 x 40".

New York

“Killing Time”

Exit Art
475 Tenth Avenue
May 12–July 28

It’s difficult to suggest curatorial distinction and narrative development when you’re organizing an exhibition for Exit Art’s capacious, hangarlike space. The problem is exacerbated when you work with over eighty very different artists. For this exhibition, curators Elvis Fuentes, Yuneikys Villalonga, and Glexis Novoa present Cuban artists, some of whom are exiles in New York and Miami and some of whom remain at home. Rather than imposing rigid order, they instead set the mood convincingly with a few large-scale works and then sensitively juxtapose similar pieces along the nearby walls.

Fidel Castro is a recurrent, ghostly presence: One imagines him in the seat of Alejandro Lopez’s Bunker of Thoughts, 2006, a booming public-address system that resembles a gun emplacement. And the show’s theme—the sense of hiatus he has created in Cuba—is elaborated in various works: In Rigoberto Quintana’s Cuban Calendar, 2007, the leader presides over every year since the revolution, yet the picture, the same each year, is of an elderly, maybe even dead Castro, lying horizontal against a bloodred backdrop. Given the dominance of national politics in our conception of the island nation, it is surprising how few other works address the topic. Instead, we see only its effects: Liudmila Velasco and Nelson Ramirez’s photographic sequence Those Who Are No Longer Here, 2004–2006, depicts the homes of departed friends. We also see artists responding to familiar concerns like feminism: Maritza Molina photographs a nude woman hauling a cart full of suited men through a field in Carrying Tradition #2, 2005. Taken as a whole, the exhibition is revelatory and intriguing. One only wishes a catalogue had accompanied it, to lend a greater sense of order and context.