Obama and the ghostly winds of Quinquenio Gris
It’s like a perfect Aristotle tale. President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba back in 2016 introduced some outstanding action to the Island’s visual art market, but how did a new rule like the 2018 Decreto 349 unfold into a seamlessly matching third act of in-e-volution?
After Mr. Obama’s landing in Havana got things spiced up beyond imagination, another new arrival promises to be crucial for the international Cuban visual art market and all aspects of the arts in general. It’s the landing of Decreto 349, an allegedly resurrected ghost of Quinquenio Gris (The Five Year Gray Period), that time during the 1970s in which a sort of Caribbean Stalinist inquisition ruled every aspect of the Cuban cultural life.
<< On December 23, 2018, relevant emergent, mid and top-career Cuban visual artists got together with a statement “La plástica cubana se dedica al fútbol” (Cuban visual artists quit and turn into soccer). The artistic performative action came up as a protest to Decreto 349, a 2018 alleged censoring document proclaimed by the Cuban Government. >>
The whole Cuban art ecosphere talks about Decreto 349, although in this post we will only care about visual art trading, so let’s try to hint into the association among the document and our main points of interest.
Just as when Obama’s visit, the 2018 cultural Decree brings a lot a fuss, it’s just that in about what seems opposite directions…; and many even see the two as consequential moments.
Notes to the facts:
- First, in 2015, President Barack Obama made some fixes to the US- Cuba relations and the international art market made a definite shift to get closer to Cuban visual arts. It was a vibrant moment for even private initiatives that formally started managing what, up to that day, only State-run institutions had been allowed to... Even blossoming private galleries!
- And then Decreto 349 comes out in 2018, allegedly ascended straight from the darkness.
When Americans’ President landed in Havana four years ago, everyone got excited; finally, it would be set away all the fencing separating Cuban artists from the American public, sometimes denoted as the natural market of the Cuban visual arts. However, up to the date, here we are dissecting the symbolism and trying to summarize things up to put in an actual picture of the practice of commercializing Cuban fine art.
And that’s mostly it because all we can be precisely right about are our analyses and conclusions. So here they are.
Allegedly and in the overall, Decreto 349 has no direct intentions, declared or undeclared, in regards to distribution or art market per se. However, since in essence the document appears to be a regulatory tool, it would be a good heads- up to watch out what’s in your emergency kit.
So there is an essential question to go after: how the not fully stated aims of the Decree are about to unveil in regards to visual art trading?
Well, Decreto 349 some say is an explicit consequence of many things, including Mr. Obama’s visit. Those who subscribe, also prophet that the stormy document stepped in to make a full statement about the health of the still state-run cultural affairs apparatus reigning in Cuba.
It's good to mention that in this over four years period we’ve gone through a cycle of acts of good faith, undeclared cultural policy adjustments, hope and despair, a sequence of events in which we can trace down clues of some, perhaps, determining factors of what twists are up to come around. The mastery will be in the ability to read between the lines.
So here you are, right on the verge of closing our glorious five years Quinquenio of hope for not more solitude after the beginning of the thawing of the US- Cuba relations and the consequent 2016 Obamas’ visit.
It’s been a flashy Quinquenio of wait for more favorable happenings whiting the national arena that would help our conducting in the international art bazaar.
It's been a long wait, and now we have to sit tight and see, just like the elders always say to us.
We are so diligent at listening to our commanders that, as in about to everything, we are going to sit again and wait. In the meantime, some will point out a slight symmetry among the after Obama 2016 visit unfoldings and the made-up new ruling that some artists insist on seeing as a longing for Quinquenio Gris.
We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!