Cuban Artists Across the Diaspora: Setting the Tent Against the House

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University of Texas Press, Jul 11, 2011 - Art
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As an island—a geographical space with mutable and porous borders—Cuba has never been a fixed cultural, political, or geographical entity. Migration and exile have always informed the Cuban experience, and loss and displacement have figured as central preoccupations among Cuban artists and intellectuals. A major expression of this experience is the unconventional, multi-generational, itinerant, and ongoing art exhibit CAFÉ: The Journeys of Cuban Artists. In Cuban Artists Across the Diaspora, Andrea O'Reilly Herrera focuses on the CAFÉ project to explore Cuba's long and turbulent history of movement and rupture from the perspective of its visual arts and to meditate upon the manner in which one reconstitutes and reinvents the self in the context of diaspora.

Approaching the Cafeteros' art from a cultural studies perspective, O'Reilly Herrera examines how the history of Cuba informs their work and establishes their connections to past generations of Cuban artists. In interviews with more than thirty artists, including José Bedia, María Brito, Leandro Soto, Glexis Novoa, Baruj Salinas, and Ana Albertina Delgado, O'Reilly Herrera also raises critical questions regarding the many and sometimes paradoxical ways diasporic subjects self-affiliate or situate themselves in the narratives of scattering and displacement. She demonstrates how the Cafeteros' artmaking involves a process of re-rooting, absorption, translation, and synthesis that simultaneously conserves a series of identifiable Cuban cultural elements while re-inscribing and transforming them in new contexts.

An important contribution to both diasporic and transnational studies and discussions of contemporary Cuban art, Cuban Artists Across the Diaspora ultimately testifies to the fact that a long tradition of Cuban art is indeed flourishing outside the island.


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Setting the Tent Against the House
The Condition of UnFreedom
CAFÉ and the Journeys of Cuban Artists
A Crumb of Madeleine
Chapter Four CAFÉ and the Cuban Modernist Movement
The Landscape of the Dispossessed
Chapter Six The Architecture of Longing and Remembrance
Chapter Seven The Trope of Displacement the Disruption of Space
Chapter Eight Discourses of Positionality
The Stranger
A WorkinProgress
The Journeys of Cuban Artists
Appendix B Café con leche by Antonia Toñi Otaola Barco
List of Illustrations

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About the author (2011)

ANDREA O’REILLY HERRERA is Professor of Literature and Director of Women’s and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. In addition to being a published poet and literary critic, she is the author of a number of critical works including ReMembering Cuba: Legacy of a Diaspora, the novel The Pearl of the Antilles, the edited collection of essays Cuba: Idea of a Nation Displaced, and the coedited textbook The Matrix Reader: Examining the Dynamics of Oppression and Privilege.

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