The City and Its Obverse
Virginia Alberdi Benítez
Disturbing and at the same time seductive is the language of the images of the exhibition Collateral Damage, presented by the UNEAC in its space of Villa Manuela Gallery. Ernesto Javier Fernández (Havana, 1963) and René Rodríguez (Santa Clara, 1966) are responsible for the art of this exhibition, where photography and design, involved in a dazzling and moving staging, praise, sing, pity and reflect on the urban landscape of the Cuban capital.
From the series I Love Vedado, by Ernesto Javier Fernández
A special communion is established between the photos of urban segments ill-treated by the passing of time and the vandalism of those who lack the tiniest sense of belonging and the light make up coming from the advertising themes. Our glance is attracted by the iconographic treatment of signs that daily accompany the living experiences of recognized, universal and even playful inhabitants of the city. This symbiosis takes away pathetic feelings from the artistic outcome, and leads it to an essayist speculation sometimes missed in our graphic exhibitions.
Ernesto Javier, with a great amount of work as a reporter in spite of his youth and experiences in the field of cultural anthropological research like the one in Zapata Cultural Center, in the German city of Stuttgart, handles subtle relations between the original photographic original and its definitive visual codification. Rodríguez evidences a univocal conceptual vocation, at times foreseeable, but undoubtedly striking. The excellent museum graphics and the selection of works stand out, although, due to the weight of both artists’ proposals, I think that two solo shows could have been made. Perhaps next time. This time, the exhibition ensures an achievement in itself, both of photography and design.