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March 2006. Invited to attend to the Novena Bienal de La Habana, we spent five weeks in Cuba in  spring 2006, preparing a live media performance to be presented in the context of the international art event. That provided the opportunity to explore a different incarnation of the late modernist periphery, which is a recurrent subject of Ogino Knauss’ work. At the beginning, Cuba seemed difficult to tackle to us, far from our usual moods and subjects, different from the cultures and phisical landscape we crossed during past years of urban drifts. Avoiding to focus on the agiographic image of the declining historical city of la Habana, rather we have been looking for the debris of the modernization process,  investigating a supposedly trivial new dense settlement in the outskirts of la Habana, the new city of Alamar.

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Duality. Our Cuban experience has been continuously dealing with strong dichotomic categories, while we were somehow travelling from center to periphery. From the cultural and political centrality of Europe to the cultural and political marginality of Cuba. From the historically rooted social milieux of La Habana Centro, to the tabula rasa,  the revolutionary new man supposedly regenerated in the modernist periphery of Alamar.

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Int/Ext. That’s how we entitled our project for he Biennial. Interior /exterior, a duality ready to be further conjugated as inside/outside, private/public, open/close, roots/sprouts, but also  nacional / convertibile, as the double speed monetary currency of cuban economy, or  legal / illegal, as the subtle ethical line dividing everyday life behaviour in Cuba…

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Guided by such abstract categories, we left ourselves to get lost in cuban contraddictions and pleasentness, exercising a dermatologic approach to the urban enviromnent, capturing signs on the surface of the city and trying to interpret signals of the deep undergoing processes affecting the intriguing cuban society. Nothing more than a slight flaneur’s gaze at the margins of a socialist metropolis…

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Centre / Periphery. Is the first articulation of our exploration program. The first week spent in La Habana Centro provide the glance on that centre of which Alamar is the periphery, positioning us in the centre of Cuban Nation, in the heart of the capital city and of the Cuban revolutionary culture. In the middle of the of the international cultural event, the art biennial to which we immediately feel peripheral…

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Aenigma Cuba. Cuba is a place of disillusioned expectations and unexpected revelations. You get in Cuba and everyone has something to tell you, but you never know if one tells you what he thinks or what he thinks he must tell you… You are in a dictatorhip, and this is an evidence to everyone, but it’s also a particular dictatorship, where control is distributed in a cooperative and spread manner. Cubans control each other, apparently. They are permeated by the spirit of the revolution, it is evident, in a more or less convincing way, self ironic, resigned.

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Cuando triunfo la revolucion. Inescapable refrain present in every conversation, the phrase sounds smoothed by cuban accent. Cuando triunfò la revolucion is the buoy, the switch point, the genesis of every triumphal progress of cuban history, the beginning of epic battles… and than,  the hint at terrible sacrifices, poverty and narrownness.

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