Ay mija, no es fácil! (Ay mija, it´s not easy!), 2017-2018.

Ay mija, no es fácil! (English: “Ay mija, it’s not easy!”) is a participatory painting project realized in cooperation with Cubans living in the Berlin diaspora and on the island. The project focus on the acute social transformation that Cuba has being through since the 90s. It was exhibited in Centro Provincial de las Artes Plásticas y el Diseño (Santiago de Cuba) in the context of the XIII wall-painting-biennale Internos and in Berlin in the University of Arts (UdK). The exhibition in Cuba was supported by the ifa.

Since the fall of the Soviet Uniton and the consequent crisis, known as Periodo Especial, Cuba has experienced a significant change on several levels: political, economic and social. Although the gol of the Castro brothers never was to establish capitalism on the island, the reforms carried out since then led eventually to a convergence with the capitalist model. This brought both progress as new social inequalities as well, which contradicts the fundamental socialist aim of equality.

Central research questions of this project were: how is it to live on the edge of two such opposing economic systems? What effects does this juxtaposition have on everyday life and human emotions? With Ay mija no es fácil! the artist wanted to create a portrait of change that goes beyond the official narratives and focuses on the experience of the population. The project offers Cubans the opportunity to present their personal perception of change. Through an open call in the social networks, she invited Cubans living in Berlin to take part in the formation of this portrait and become co-authors of the artwork. Their biographical narratives served as the basis for a series of paintings and an audio installation that was exhibited in Santiago. Through the anonymity of these contributions and the corresponding responsibility shift, the exhibition became a temporary platform for free speech, which is normally severely restricted in the country.

During her stay in Santiago, the artist entered a dialogue with the gallery’s visitors and later incorporated their reactions to this ongoing project. Thereby the collective portrait that begun in the diaspora was complemented with the contributions of residents on the island. The type of portrait wich is propose with this artwork, rejects the idea of a homogeneous identity of a collective. Instead, it welcomes the polyphony and contradictions that exist among Cuban´s -as well as among every other- society.

Ay mija! is a project that crosses national borders and accepts different potentials depending on the cultural environment. In the context of Germany, it stimulates an awareness about the Eurocentric view and the visual representation of alterity. His participatory character allows access to a foreign reality from the perspective of those affected and opens a path to empathy with the other.

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