7th Havana Biennial -  Home November 2000 - January 2001Home
Albert Chong - Statement
Albert Chong Written down by Pat Binder and Gerhard Haupt, based on an interview with the artist. + zoom: click on images
The piece is a meditation on flight and divinity. I've had a lot of problems doing this piece because of the notion of flight and what it symbolizes here in Cuba. But it also has aspects of "brujería" [witchcraft], a little bit of the Palo Monte and Santeria. So I wanted it to somehow function as way of referencing all these aspects of Cuba.

These men's suits are covered with giant pinecones from California. Their faces are my face cast bronze. The wings are made from raw hide. The figures become sort of like bats. The photos on the wall are my relatives and friends, personal photos. And I also have paper boats. I'll tell you that story: I found a crumpled piece of paper on my friend's table - my Cuban friend I'm staying with here - and I opened it up and it was a little boat that he'd made. It turns out he makes a lot of these boats. He started showing me and other friends how to make boats, but we couldn't make them real well. So I had him come and sit with me one day and make boats. We used a book by Phillip Agee, Inside the Company, about exposing the CIA. It's an old book from the 70s. We tore pages from that book and made boats out of it. And so a lot of the texts are about the CIA and its intervention in Cuba and Latin, Central and South America.

The problems I had about this piece was that I had asked Cuban friends inside and outside Cuba, Cuban artists, to respond to three questions: What are your aspirations for the future of Cuba? How do you feel about Cuba presently? But I couldn't show the texts. I didn't want to endanger the future of the Biennial because this [the Cabaña fortress] is a military complex and the colonel in charge was not happy with these. That's why I've had to cover up many of the answers with these boats.

© Interview, photos:
Gerhard Haupt & Pat Binder,
Universes in Universe
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Chong - 1 Tour

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