Notes on Personal exhibition of Sonia Cunliffe / Fototeca de Cuba
The afternoon they inaugurated this exhibition, a torrential and prolonged downpour exploded, so torrential that I could not leave the intermediate scale that I made before going to the Fototeca. A few days later I passed by, and on the way in the bus two girls were talking about a Netflix series about the atomic accident at the Chernobyl Thermonuclear Power Plant. The plot of what I was listening to did not differ much from a conventional TV series, with stereotyped characters, sub-plots and a whole string of essential ingredients to make it easy to digest. The young women spoke of it as if it were a fictional story, full of dramaturgical complexities that I can't attest to, because I haven't seen the series.
When I arrived at the Photo Library I found that the exhibition referred precisely to the human impact of the nuclear mishap in the vicinity of the Ukrainian city of Chernobyl. The guagua was one of those rare clues that predict small incidents to happen, sometimes, as is the case, full of high contrasts in the interpretation of certain matters. Another contrast, and no less important, and no less striking, was the flyer that the staff of the reception bureau delivered to me with great diligence, at the entrance of the institution. Finally, someone delivers a document that accompanies the routes of an exhibition! The rapid disappointment for such kindness made me go up quickly in search of my objective, because the flyer did not announce anything other than a gastronomic establishment!.... Tell me something, madman!?
On 26 April 1986, an environmental disaster with serious consequences occurred in reactor No. 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, considered the most serious of its kind in the International Nuclear Accident Scale. With the explosion of reactor No. 4, a long chain of emerging events began. A total of 600,000 people were affected during the clean-up following the accident. 5,000,000 people lived in polluted areas, and 400,000 in heavily polluted areas. Because of the magnitude of what happened, the radioactive cloud reached some Western and Nordic European nations, beyond the directly affected borders, to the north of Ukraine, the south of Belarus and the west of Russia. Still today, field research cannot determine the real impact that the disaster has had and does have on human health and mortality.
A Cuban government program, determined by the political ties then existing between Cuba and the Soviet Union, allowed dozens of children from damaged areas to be cared for on the Caribbean island. Sonia Cunliffe's exhibition gathers everyday moments of that rehabilitation process in Tarará, a seaside resort east of Havana, with all its emotional charge and great documentary weight, transcending the categorical schemes of whether it obeys an artistic criterion or merely testimonial, journalistic; as well as other political implications that, in Jorge A. Fernández Torres's commentary, is defended as an ethical rather than an aesthetic position. Previously shown in Peru, the United States and Cuba, Cunliffe's exhibition draws on the research of Maribel Acosta Damas and the music of J. Fernández Acosta, in a creative complex that includes audiovisual and written testimonies, always on the objective string of documentaryresearch, with unavoidable links to science, sociology and history. The museographic correction in the disposition of the photos and videos, confer to this proposal the exact restrained and functional character that has been traced conceptually.
Founded in the 13th century, the toponym Chernobyl means "black leaves" or "wormwood", which seems a dark harbinger for its long history of wars, occupations and desolation. However, of the 14,000 inhabitants who resided in the locality before the nuclear accident, their number has gradually risen to more than 2,000 today. I recommend you to go to the Fototeca, in the Plaza Vieja of the Historical Center. I don't think you have time to watch the Netflix series to tell them about it, but you can download it from the internet or look it up in the Package. Nor do I think that I can go through the palate that I was recommended, believing it was a loose of the exhibition, but here is the content: "Guachinango / The paradise of flavor. Place to enjoy a good Creole meal with the family / Ave. 19 e/ 66 y 68. No. 6622. Beach / Hours: 12.00M -12.00PM".
Text and photos: Amilkar Feria Flores
Palatino Entropic Observatory / August 27, 2019, 08:05pm