Generation 349 is born
As Cuban contemporary art faces increasing censorship, an artistic vanguard is born. It is Generation 349 and the labeling is due to Decree 349, the ruling document that lays out the new forms to control artists’ productions in Cuba.
One of the latest actions by Cuban Government to intensify censorship over the artists was the 2018 launching of Decree 349, a regulatory instrument that cultural officials and bureaucrats would refer as not intended to subdue artists, but to safeguard the best values of the national Culture.
The last thing the Ministry of Culture representatives expected was not the negative response that Decreto 349 generated, as that was predictably obvious, but for sure they did not anticipate this sort of scorn that is now serving as pretext to conveniently name the current frontline of Cuban visual creators as Generación 349.
In December of 2018 many Cuban Contemporary artists including several previous winners of the National Art prize, got together in an artistic action to state that as last resource, they would quit their artistic practices to devote to soccer.
The baptism of the actual generation of contemporary Cuban visual artists is an initiative defended among others by former member of “Los Carpinteros” artistic collective Marcos Castillo, who recently flagged the term to refer not an age or aesthetic art group as it is convention in the arts, but to identify an attitude toward the State- institutions and their intention to rule the content of the artists’ work.
<< I propose to use #generation349 as a new hashtag from now on, because there is a new generation of Cuban artists. This is not a generation defined by a decade as it used to be, it is not defined by the ages of the artists or the discipline. It is a generation that for the first time includes the powerful weapon of independent journalism and is above all a brave generation, it is unified and capable of shaking the institutional foundations. (…) Almost all of us play soccer and knocked on the doors of the Ministry of Culture to claim our rights. This generation has a significant number of events and a well-defined socio-political context. This movement is in full effect, so new events will be seen in the near future. Let's use this new hashtag #generation349, let's give room to this new generation!!!>>
Call on Instagram by @ marcoacastillo.official
The words by artist Marcos Castillo resonate. The trigger was actioned not now, but when the Cuban institutional apparatus ignited the deed that would deliver the allegedly ill-famed Decree 349. Marcos Castillo call up to use #generation349 and many questions arise.
Could Generation 349 contribute to a final separation, or at least a loosening of the overused paradigms about the politically correctiveness that art institutions and other officials still employ in Cuba to try softening the artistic DNA praxis?
Did the State- institutions ever face the political rulers to at least intend to explain them that artists are not factory workers and that certainly they do not work for State- owned factories? Can they be practical and understand that in a society all the art that is made cannot be meant to please the main power reigning? Can someone in the Ministry of Culture pass the voice that not all unpleasing art is blatantly intending to disrupt the order imposed to a society?
Will any good art in full compliance with Decree 349 ever be passed on to future generations?
Is the rise of Generation 349 the final split between good Cuban art and pastiche Cuban art? Will the difference be that visible?
Decree 349 gave name to Generation 349 so there is its biggest contribution, because it ignited an unprecedented cohesion among the most dynamic and enthusiastic players in the Cuban scene.
One last question has to do with the role of Generation 349 in the international art market playground. Are these Generation 349 artists, independent curators, writers, producers, journalists and intellectuals intended also to develop the scheme necessary to catch on the overdue momentum of Cuban visual arts in the global art bazaar?
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