Fototeca de Cuba. Mercaderes street between Murallas and Teniente Rey, Old Havana. La Habana. November 2016

On November 2,3 and 4, 2016, the Photo Criticism Workshop was held with a closing panel on November 22. This workshop, conceived by Claudia Arcos, Ley MA and frency, was conceived to establish a critical dialogue with a level higher than usual and also to fill an existing void of this type of spaces for reflection on the photographic medium. Around thirty artists, from different parts of Cuba and even settled in other countries, delivered their dossiers of works with the idea of exposing themselves to a critical public dialogue. These artists were selected by the critics and artists who conducted the workshop: Orlando Hernández, Ley MA, Alfredo Sarabia son, Reinaldo Hechemendía Cid, frency, Grethel Morell, Rafael Acosta de Arriba and as a special guest Juan Carlos Alom.

In general, the selection did not respond to better or worse proposals, although there were examples with quality problems. The final selection responded to proposals that contained a certain amount of other proposals that were received from all the artists.

However, in the workshop process, references were made to artists who were not selected but were nonetheless related to those proposed for public analysis. Nothing was intended to be considered. Rather, to point out discursive, conceptual or content problems that extend to many of those who graciously handed down their digital dossiers and that are problematic issues that extend to almost everyone today. These included the following:

  • Ignorance of references, both from other international contexts and from Cuba (and especially from the national context).
  • Recurrence in cliché images and in common spaces. This, together with the ignorance of references, contradicts the fact that photography is an instrument of investigation. Because returning to the same points without "adding" something else is like repeating formulas that demerit the artistic result.
  • Contradiction, no correspondence or ambiguity between what is perceived and what the artist-photographer states as an explanation of series or group of works.
  • Lack of selective criteria of the artist himself and consequently expression of a lack of conscience on which terrain he is investigating or if he is investigating something.
  • Epigonism of several regarding those who have formed them. Something remarkable in the guild sense of some spaces of photographic training.
  • Gloat in technical effects and not hierarchy of a notion of photographic morphology as another expressive tool.

Among the thirty photographers selected there were works by César Vilá, José Ney, Alain Cabrera, Álvaro José Brunet, Dany del Pino, Nelvis Jacomino, Yanahara Mauri, Yomer F. Montejo, Sadiel Mederos, Yoanny Aldaya, Rigoberto Oquendo (Chacho), Eduardo García, William Cruz, Julio Imperatori and Yoel Mayor.

The Workshop demonstrated the need to recover or create this type of spaces, as it is a practice that is increasingly less used to gauge the value or problems of artistic creation and on the rare occasions that something similar is done, everything remains superficial, the merely technical or without a real critical look at the photographic exercise.