By Juan Carlos Fernández
Art has always had the virtue of repositioning, of showing to the greatest extent the absurdities of the standard bearers of the power-dogma, a cyst that makes them extremely nervous. It brings them to hysteria, combined with paranoia, because the pre-programmed mind of the dogmatic cannot imagine departing from the script, which is also pre-programmed and reprogrammed (the same forever). To go against the libretto is to immediately convert oneself into a heretic that has to be burned in the most fiery bonfire.
Yamila Perez, Sergio Abel Suarez, and Maikal Iglesias were condemned to burn on Saturday, January 9, when they dared to exercise artistic creativity in a performance piece titled: Intervention 2 “Without Permissions” “A Step towards Change” which they would carry out in a city park. For those in power, that was more than enough. Once was all right — well, with reservations — nervously, aggressive to the point of explosion, but… well, we remember the last time, on December 10 in Independence Park, but twice… don’t even think about it. Hit the alarm, code red, it’s war!
The unsure army and the counterintelligence (read: against intelligence) went out of their minds, they did not rest until all of their actors (could it be genetic?) were notified in time to prevent “the Machiavellian act of three heretics” who imagined that they could communicate and share with other people their feelings, their ethical visions and their esthetics. This, simply said, was inexcusable. The set was made ready. They began the acting: politicizing the deed, always the same thing, they have no imagination, repeating the formula again and again… from time immemorial. It seems there is no cure for this.
Independence Park and Bailina Park (which previously had been completely unknown by these name and now have achieved fame), the places where these performances were to occur were literally packed with huge audio equipment, and chairs, from the earliest hours, although it was called for 9 in the evening, but just in case…
But they couldn’t wait, it was too much, the order was: carry it out so to involve one of the implicated, it was Maikal’s turn. Two strong agents removed him by force to Yamilias house, in a Mercedes Benz, (they are moving up in the world and no longer use Ladas) to within a block of his house. Yamilia and Sergio remained alone, they had busted the performance because it now lacked an essential piece. And the power-dogma thought, “They are not going to do it, everything is OK”; there wasn’t room for anything else in its collective mind. They did not consider, because they never consider, creative freedom, which is why artists are able to reposition things, which bothers the hell out of the powerful, in all parts of the world. Cuba is not the exception to this, it is more like the rule.
But the two pieces that remained went out to perform, and the artistic event achieved a success that the artists themselves could never have imagined, thanks to the crude and brutal collaboration of Power, which played itself, and which moreover, was one of the three characters that made up the performance, the others being fear, and purity, the role of Maikel. Lacking him, the remaining two assumed the role of fear, which was certainly felt amidst the hysterical cries and abuses. In the opinion of the artists, the representation of power was brilliant, overwhelming, literally speaking.
For myself, in addition to applauding the courage of these simple artists from Pinar del Rio, and their sense of humor in the face of such brutality, I believe that the State has shown a weakness every bit as large as the success of the artistic improvisation. It was a full, real performance of terror, and of the most primitive feeling than a human being can show: hatred.
Hatred of love, of sensitivity, of peace, of diversity and of free artistic creation. On January 9 the soul of the entire nation was attacked.
And there in the middle of so much hatred and rancour there were tears, not exactly of the artists, although I do not doubt that their tears also poured out. But also tears of their compatriots, who saw all of this as an attack on themselves, because they did not attack political or economic adversaries, but simple Cubans, who only wanted to transmit: Faith, Hope and Love — and this they achieved.
The paraphernalia has failed, and neither shouts, nor false slogans, nor hysterical communiques can redeem it.
Juan Carlos Fermandez Hernandes (1965)
Formerly correspondent for the Brotherhood of Assistance to Prisoners and Their Families, Diocese of Pinar Del Rio
Translated by ricote.