To free
                            or
 not      free
                                                 

Ex-Portada. Columna

by
Frency

The following text emerges as necessity from an ethical nature, because in a humbly manner addresses the work of a great artist who today suffers, face to face, a destructive power of society and the human being. On August 9, 2021, Hamlet Lavastida reaches 38 years of age in sad and unfair conditions. Then this text it is another homage to those of us who love and admire him, as a human being, as an artist and as an organic intellectual of this 21st century.

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Hamlet Lavastida.Photo David Brandt.

The artist that more respect raises is the one who incites, provokes, reveals contradictions, in language, in the morphologies of art and its representation, or in the fields of the human being such as politics and society, because use art as a medium or tool of expression. 

 

The artist that most moves me shakes the foundations of what we consider "real", is who disagrees, the disruptor of the established if the instituted has to be changed. Is not very able as a proper social, intellectual or political being and pleasant to please everyone. On the contrary, can be annoying, uncomfortable, often impertinent. 

Hamlet Lavastida Cultura Profiláctica 2021 Künstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin. Photo David Bran

Hamlet Lavastida. Cultura Profiláctica, 2021. Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin.

Photo David Brandt. 

That is in the personality and creative expression of Hamlet Lavastida. I have seen him driving someone crazy, sometimes almost insolently, but deep down without the slightest interest in harming or wrongdoing, but rather to show with his expression that something is not right and deserves a critical approach to maybe renew. 

 

Detained by the State Security of Cuba since June 26, 2021, under the construction of a case against him for a not committed crime –in the style of the darkest dystopian scenarios like "1984" or its film version "Brazil" by Terry Guilliam, or as in "Matrix", "Minority Report" and so many more realities, fictional or tangible–. Hamlet has done what many does: share good, regular or bad ideas, as in art workshops, in creative brainstorms, this time through chats on social networks that have been intervened by the Cuban State Security with the clear intention of creating criminal profiles on intellectuals, artists, thinking tanks and activists that for years have been opposing the Cuban establishment of the so-called “Revolution”. 

 

The natural son of a critical vocation necessary in art, Hamlet Lavastida is the logical result of a sensitivity of contemporary Cuban art for penetrating the problems of society, politics, history, and the human being. He is the consequence of a trend planted in the eighties and revived at the end of the century and millennium towards the dawn of this turbulent XXI century, full of strange, dramatic and tragic surprises for the majority of society. 

Hamlet Lavastida Cultura Profiláctica 2021 Künstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin. Photo David Bran

Hamlet Lavastida. Cultura Profiláctica, 2021. Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin.

Photo David Brandt. 

Hamlet's sensitivity is that of the unbeliever, because at some point in his life he took off his blinders and was able to acquire and train a deeper perception of the processes, events and things that have surrounded him. And with that arsenal he became an "archaeologist" of amnesia to review History and the imaginary that it generates and detect contradictions, flaws, impostures, deceptions, ... multiple reasons to see in "the past" the bases of why we live a "present" like the one that happens.

 

So Hamlet Lavastida, in other words, is not a simple critical revisionist of History –and this is his obsession– but a creator who anticipates social events: with his radiographic or scanner nature he exposes it to us the discourse and the symbolic production that accompanies History from power. Hamlet employs a supposedly simple operation –apparently due to a methodological influence from Hans Haacke and others like him–: he penetrates in the same sources and shows them, socializes them in such a way that they express the contradiction amid what is proposed and what is practiced. 

Hamlet Lavastida. Tomada del Facebook del artista.png

Hamlet Lavastida. Tomado del perfil de Facebook del artista. n

Theory and practice, speech and truth, word and action. The firsts seem to be denied or at least questioned by the seconds. And so, the artist reveals the great fallacy of the system in which he is investigating. Then the problem, the manipulation, the betrayal of the principles, of what is stated, of what is said to society as a whole, is refuted by the very reality that has happened. And the "enemy", the "counterrevolutionary", the "traitor", is precisely the one who intends to build and create enemies, counterrevolutionaries and traitors that do not exist. And so, the system covers up its infidelity, its lie. 

 

But Lavastida has been in charge for years of revealing it, exposing it, making such manipulation explicit. And that annoys, it is important for power. And this one, by its treacherous nature, waits for the moment and lashes out against the disturbing artist.

 

That is the Hamlet Lavastida with which I have worked in more than three art exhibitions and events. He is the person with whom I have enjoyed long relational or "paranoid" conversations, while we work editing his stop-motion videos, or rectifying an openwork template of which are excellent works, or we celebrate by discussing ideas that feed later projects and exhibitions. He is the artist that I supported as a graduation tutor at the University of Arts in Cuba –in the midst of an atmosphere of tension due to his anti-systemic and critical positions, with representatives of the Communist Party who tried to manipulate the academic act of his graduate thesis with the idea to "punish" him for his uncomfortable acts during the period at the Universit

Hamlet Lavastida Cultura Profiláctica 2021 Künstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin. Photo David Bran

Hamlet Lavastida. Cultura Profiláctica, 2021. Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin.

Photo David Brandt. 

But he was already an artist, he was already starting an emerging projection. We had already had to fight against representatives of government institutions, cultural police, censors, real policemen disguised as civilians, against undercover agents within the artists' circuit –various infiltrators in the group close to Tania Bruguera and the ARTEDECONDUCTA Cathedra– and Hamlet, other artists and I knew that happened. We could not be blind to a practice that is as old as prostitution: espionage and denunciation. 

 

And all of that is contained in the elegant works that Hamlet shared during his experience at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, from April 16 to June 24, 2021. CULTURA PROFILÁCTICA is a melting pot of experiences as a researcher of narratives and symbolisms of power of a repressive, deceptive and nullifying ideology of individuality such as that developed in the Cuban context and in European and Asian nations under the so-called “socialist” or “communist” system –which are at the end disguised interests as an ideological scaffolding that conceals the devastating nature of power against the human condition–.

 

As the title indicates, the reference to preventive, to what is done before of a more complex process, especially in the clinical field from which the term "prophylaxis" comes from, is applied in a similar way by the police and security apparatus within several systems, in this case related to the Cuban control mechanism, the artist has been conducting an investigation for more than a year on part of the narrative and the iconic construction of the Cuban regime to execute its social "prophylaxis" through manipulation and propaganda. 

Hamlet Lavastida Cultura Profiláctica 2021 Künstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin. Photo David Bran

Hamlet Lavastida. Cultura Profiláctica, 2021. Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin.

Photo David Brandt. 

Hamlet makes use of the repertoire of underground art, constructing openwork templates that serve the same purpose as supports or as means for making graffiti on the street. Much of his work was captured in the form of actions and stencils in his city and in other parts of America, Asia and Europe. The medium contains a conceptual value, since the openwork patterns for graffiti have a direct relationship with the clandestine, the anti-system, the rebellious. But they increase in value when we enter into its iconic narrative and elaboration. 

 

Hamlet Lavastida is a detective of the failures and shares them from an aesthetic of the "cultural guerrilla". Nothing more coherent between technique, support, method, medium and message. And that has placed him in the collimator of the Cuban repressive apparatus. 

 

And there the paradox: Germany as a symbolic space of freedom welcomes him –context not without problems and contradictions– already far from that divided Berlin, from that polarized nation but with a society in need of much. Hamlet breathes that experience. He also investigates it. He shares it. He proposes ideas. He raises how to maintain symbolic subversions that have a real effect. There is the idea. Waiting, in the air. 

 

And he enters the restricted zone of his country of origin, they wait for him, they hunt him like an expected prey, in a traitorous way. And his expression of freedom is intended to be silenced in his cultural base. Cuba is on the path that twenty-one years ago made Germans and many in the world cried with joy, different hopes, not drowned by a false concept of a social project. 

 

Today the artist that so many miss free, with his insolence and sarcasm, with his humorous face of observer, suffers from promoting a way of being less prisoners of a regime. Freedom will always have a high price for any society, it is followed by violence, aggression against individuality and collectivity. It is part of the causes and effects beyond history. 

 

Like others, Hamlet has perceived that many impostures are hidden behind the concepts. In the case of his work, shows in a refined way the many deceptions of an entire society, of entire nations, under the false idea of ​​socialism and the real practice of an ideology that annuls the human being in favor of a mass tied by dictating decisions. 

Hamlet Lavastida Cultura Profiláctica 2021 Künstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin (Detail). Photo D

Hamlet Lavastida. Cultura Profiláctica, 2021. Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin.  (Detail ) Photo David Brandt. 

And there the paradox: Germany as a symbolic space of freedom welcomes him –context not without problems and contradictions– already far from that divided Berlin, from that polarized nation but with a society in need of much. Hamlet breathes that experience. He also investigates it. He shares it. He proposes ideas. He raises how to maintain symbolic subversions that have a real effect. There is the idea. Waiting, in the air. 

 

And he enters the restricted zone of his country of origin, they wait for him, they hunt him like an expected prey, in a traitorous way. And his expression of freedom is intended to be silenced in his cultural base. Cuba is on the path that twenty-one years ago made Germans and many in the world cried with joy, different hopes, not drowned by a false concept of a social project. 

 

Today the artist that so many miss free, with his insolence and sarcasm, with his humorous face of observer, suffers from promoting a way of being less prisoners of a regime. Freedom will always have a high price for any society, it is followed by violence, aggression against individuality and collectivity. It is part of the causes and effects beyond history. 

 

Like others, Hamlet has perceived that many impostures are hidden behind the concepts. In the case of his work, shows in a refined way the many deceptions of an entire society, of entire nations, under the false idea of ​​socialism and the real practice of an ideology that annuls the human being in favor of a mass tied by dictating decisions. 

 

Real Montecassino. August 2021.

Material Visual: proposed by  Frency Fernandez and courtesy of the artist  2021