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martha rosler

cuba, january 1981

may 22 – august 3, 2013

via a. stradella 1

Raffaella Cortese is proud to present, in her space at Via Stradella 1, the exhibition Cuba, January 1981 by Martha Rosler. The exhibition presents both color and black and white photographs, including several diptychs, that have not previously been exhibited in Europe.

In early 1981, Rosler and a group of other artists and intellectuals joined a cultural tour organized by Ana Mendieta and Lucy Lippard. Traveling around the island, Rosler photographed shops, buildings and people as well as the posters and billboards that punctuated the roads and urban spaces. About the period during which the images were taken, Rosler has commented:

“January 1981 marked the end of the 1970s, not only for the obvious reason but because it marked the moment after Reagan’s election and before his inauguration, after the discourses of détente, human rights, and egalitarianism and before the onslaught of neoliberalism, anti-terrorism and militarist adventurism and supply-side “trickle-down” rhetoric masking the huge upward redistribution of wealth. The Mariel “boatlift” from Cuba to Florida had just ended in October, just in time for Reagan’s election in November. But the meaning of the 80s – for us as well as for the Cubans we met – was still located only in our nightmares and fears, not yet realized.” read more

Raffaella Cortese is proud to present, in her space at Via Stradella 1, the exhibition Cuba, January 1981 by Martha Rosler. The exhibition presents both color and black and white photographs, including several diptychs, that have not previously been exhibited in Europe.

In early 1981, Rosler and a group of other artists and intellectuals joined a cultural tour organized by Ana Mendieta and Lucy Lippard. Traveling around the island, Rosler photographed shops, buildings and people as well as the posters and billboards that punctuated the roads and urban spaces. About the period during which the images were taken, Rosler has commented:

“January 1981 marked the end of the 1970s, not only for the obvious reason but because it marked the moment after Reagan’s election and before his inauguration, after the discourses of détente, human rights, and egalitarianism and before the onslaught of neoliberalism, anti-terrorism and militarist adventurism and supply-side “trickle-down” rhetoric masking the huge upward redistribution of wealth. The Mariel “boatlift” from Cuba to Florida had just ended in October, just in time for Reagan’s election in November. But the meaning of the 80s – for us as well as for the Cubans we met – was still located only in our nightmares and fears, not yet realized.”

Bracketed chronologically by Rosler’s well-known photo-text work The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems (1974/75) and her highly influential essay, “In, around and afterthoughts (on documentary photography)” (1981), this series takes its place alongside Rosler’s photographs of airports, roads, shop windows, and public transportation as part of a career-long photographic practice.

The images, like Rosler’s other photographic images, present a visual experience of common spaces of society and spaces where exterior and interior worlds intersect: cafes, schools, beauty parlors, theatres, churches. As Cuba was, at the time – and it still remains – largely off limits to U.S. citizens, these images also exist in a hazy area of widely divergent assumptions about Cuban culture and the role of Cuban Communism.

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