7th Havana Biennial -  Home November 2000 - January 2001Home
Galería DUPP - Statement and Details
 +  zoom in. Galería DUPP Members of the group:
René Francisco Rodríguez, James Bonachea, Iván Capote, Yoan Capote, Duvier del Dago, Alexánder Guerra, Inti Hernández, Glenda León, Mayimbe, Beverly Mojena, Omar Moreno, Wuilfredo Prieto, Juan Rivero, David Sardiñas, Ruslán Torres
Excerpts taken from an interview by Pat Binder and Gerhard Haupt. + zoom: click on images
(Note: In the interview, various members of the group expressed themselves and afterwards were difficult to discern. For this reason the answers are marked with the unifying name DUPP. Only the statements from René Francisco Rodríguez, the coordinator of Galería DUPP, have been identified separately.)

What does DUPP mean and what are your aims?

DUPP:  DUPP means "Desde Una Pragmática Pedagógica" (based on pedagogic pragmatics). They are the initials of a pedagogic project of René's in the last ten years. Our group is the third edition. We already knew each other before in some way and shared a lot of viewpoints, but then René turned up and brought everything together.

René:  DUPP was created as a group for discussion and the better understanding of questions that each had posed him/herself on his own. A kind of format and a method was then found in order to realize, on the one hand, collective works and, on the other, occasional individual works - for example solo shows - with which the group offers support, almost like a mini-institution.

DUPP:  The term "gallery" emphasizes that, although we are stressing the collective, we nevertheless greatly respect the individual - currently the only thing that a collective project can support.

René:  Among the things that DUPP has on its program is the revival of certain aspects of Cuban art which, in our opinion, have been pushed into the background in the current day and age when artists tend toward a more introspective, individual view - for example the "forming of a group" in the first place in order to discuss. Something else which the group decided to work for is, for example, the "abstraction" which has been regarded as a side issue within a Cuban art that has been very thematically oriented in the past - full of stories, jokes, political allusions.

DUPP has realized two works in this vein. One we called "How to Look abstracted". This was a performance to direct the attention of the passers-by to the mosaics done by a few abstract painters on the sidewalk of "La Rampa" in the sixties [lower end of 23rd Street - trans. note, see Pabellón Cuba]. And then this idea of a work group took shape in an exhibition at the Galería Habana called "How to Think abstracted" and in which the theme of abstraction expressed itself not as much in formal aspects as in a reflection on abstraction and Cuban art.

In addition, DUPP planned to take up interdisciplinary work again, which had also lost in importance in recent years. A festival for performance was created as an homage to Ana Mendieta in an attempt to collectively foster performance activities in Cuba.

How did your idea for the work at the Biennial come about?

DUPP:  We have a system of developing projects: We sit down together and talk until the group accepts a member's proposal, adequately modifies and expands on it until it becomes a collective project. This requires openness and a great deal of modesty from each of us and moreover the interest that every project should be something that unifies us yet at the same time help each individual as well.

For the idea for the Biennial we proposed a lot of projects among ourselves. We knew that we had to participate as a single exhibitor and that it would be most effective to present a single work. After many discussions, we finally decided on this project. It took four months of discussion and one month for the production of the work in the factory.

René:  We knew that the theme of communication in the work does not necessarily have to appear obvious, as we have already been making this happen every day for the last three years. We did not have to take on this theme but rather its opposite: silence.

DUPP:  In the beginning, the project was intended for the Malecón [Havana's coastal road - trans. note]. But then we became more interested in the historical aspect of the phenomenon of communication. And since the project did not refer to the Malecón itself, but rather the idea existed in the utopian concept of providing all Cuban coasts with these symbols and thereby referring to the island situation - with the geography and the landscape as part of the work - we decided to place it on the Morro as a paradigmatic location.

The microphone is an element that serves to amplify a person's opinion, to allow a person to be heard. The surprising thing about our work is the fact that it not only deals with one microphone but with infinitely many which indicate that we are all listening and that we can all speak our minds.

René:   .... but instead of talking and amplifying, they are microphones to look at and reflect upon.

What is the relation to the work with the curtains inside of the Morro?
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DUPP:  The work with the curtains is like an ideal representation of how the work would have looked on the Malecón. The fact that it is made of curtains facilitates passing through it, moving from one side to the other. The idea seemed interesting to us because it lends the drawing another dynamic: You can look at it lit from the back and at the same time play with the idea of crossing the border by passing through the drawing and looking at it from the other side. In addition, the curtains generate new walls and allow for another spatial experience and another form of walking through this place.

René:  The entire work has a relationship to architecture, but in this case the outer space engages in a dialogue with the inner one.

Are these drawings collective works as well?

DUPP:  Yes, each member of the group had a specific task in the realization - one drew, someone else made the gray tones, yet another the darker tones. The layers of the different tones were made by everyone together, and in the end it looks as if it had been only one person. That was a very powerful experience for us.

How did you finance the project?

René:  DUPP had a bit of help, but just a bit, just like things here always work. But with this work the ISA [Instituto Superior de Arte - art college] gave some money for the first time for the iron casting of the microphones. However, the special thing about it was that, although we paid to have the pieces made in the factory, we ended up paying to work there ourselves because the foundry was a catastrophe, the workers did nothing and the date of the Biennial was getting closer and closer.

We also received support from the Spanish cultural center in Havana to be able to print the little catalogue we designed ourselves on the group's computer. And we also raised some ourselves. The group sold shoes and shirts, and there are even those among us who painted little pictures in order to sell them at the crafts market at the cathedral.

Spiritual support we received from people like Gerardo Mosquera, which encouraged us a great deal.

What does the UNESCO award mean to you?

DUPP:  For us the award means a recognition of our work and our efforts, but most of all of our belief in a kind of "extra-ordinary" (not ordinary) learning and teaching. It was also wonderful to see that both Cuban award winners (Los Carpinteros and Galería DUPP) developed from the same pedagogical approach.

(Translated from the German version by Rebeccah Blum)

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

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