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New short film created by Fairfield University Art Museum, captures essence of its Cuban art exhibition
Manuel Mendive Hoyo, Yesterday Afternoon (Ayer Por la Tarde), 2018. Acrylic on canvas. Collection of Steven and Terry Certilman.

FAIRFIELD, CONN.- In a time of self-isolation and closure, a new short film premiering this week documents the Cuban art exhibition presented by the Fairfield University Art Museum in spring 2020, and makes it available to communities currently unable to physically visit the museum.

The film explores the artwork, the contemporary Cuban artists and their inspirations, along with related lectures, and captures the many curricular and community interactions that grew out of the exhibition, according to Carey Weber, executive director at the museum.

A collaboration of Michelle Farrell, PhD, and Javier Labrador Deulofeu, the short film, “Tracing Archives of Consciousness: Six Cuban Artists,” can be accessed and enjoyed on the museum’s exhibition web page, and on the museum’s YouTube channel.

Six internationally renowned artists were featured in the Cuban art exhibition at the museum this spring, exploring the mythologies of liberation and fulfillment promised by modern life in Cuba. Through sculpture, painting, photography and mixed media, the works interrogate the ways that consumerism, migration, patriarchy and the legacies of slavery, shape the definitions and experiences of freedom, that 21st- century technology make possible.

“We feel so lucky to have had access to Michelle Farrell’s connections to the Cuban film community. She brought Javiar Labrador to this project, and worked with him to achieve this wonderful cinematic synthesis of everything that the museum had presented in conjunction with this exhibition, across two months of jam-packed programming,” said Weber.

Featured artists are Roberto Diago, Manuel Mendive, Eduardo (“Choco”) Roca, Abel Barroso, Mabel Poblet and Luis Enrique Camejo.

Curated by Lillian Guerra, PhD, and Arianne Kolb, PhD, this exhibition and these works anchored the viewer in deeply Cuban locations of consciousness. Using a range of media, the artists reflect on the principles of survival in a society where egalitarian dreams have long clashed with scarcity, poverty and painful political realities.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum presented three lectures about related areas of Cuban art and history that have been woven into the film:

· The first talk was by Dr. Lillian Guerra, (University of Florida) about the history of modern Cuba, and introduced the artists in the exhibition.

· The second lecture, by Barbaro Martinez-Ruiz, PhD (Indiana University and Oxford University), focused on the art of Manuel Mendive.

· The final talk, delivered via Zoom after Fairfield University’s closure due to the pandemic, was by Alejandro de la Fuente, PhD, (Harvard University) and titled “The Art of Black Mobilization: Afro-Latin American Artists, History and Racial Justice.”

All three of these lectures can be found on the Watch, Listen & Learn tab of the museum’s website .

Michelle Leigh Farrell, PhD, is both the producer and scriptwriter on “Tracing Archives of Consciousness: Six Cuban Artists.” She is an associate professor of Spanish at Fairfield University. Her research focuses on the contemporary changes in the audiovisual landscapes in Cuba and Venezuela through emerging cinemas and access to digital production and alternative distribution opportunities. Her publications can be found in Cuban Studies, Chasqui, The Latin Americanist, and [In]Transition: A Media Commons Project with Journal of Cinema and Media Studies. Dr. Farrell has also served as a film jury member for Latin American film festivals in the New York City area, including the Havana Film Festival NYC, the Americas Film Festival, and the Cinema Tropical Annual Film Awards.

Javier Labrador Deulofeu is both the cinematographer and editor of “Tracing Archives of Consciousness: Six Cuban Artists.” Since 2002, Javier Labrador has worked as a cinematographer in the Cuban film industry and independent productions as well as directed in documentary film. He graduated with a degree in cinematography from the International Film School of San Antonio de los Baños in Havana, Cuba. He has been the cinematographer for films of fiction and documentaries including Hotel Nueva Isla (2014), Santa y Andrés (2016), and The Extraordinary Journey of Celeste García (2018). These films premiered and were awarded prizes at international film festivals such as Toronto, San Sebastián, Havana, and New York City.

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