Fresh : Preview: Group Show
Envisioned with a slight twist to the virtual exhibition format, FRESH: Preview offers a glimpse of works from what was to be the inaugural exhibition at our new gallery space in New York City. The opening was originally scheduled for early May, what turned out to be a time of quarantine in New York City due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The excitement around finally realizing our mission of providing a permanent physical exhibition space for Cuban artists went on hold as the entire city shutdown, halting the gallery’s renovation and leaving us in limbo.
Apartment-bound, trying to navigate our new physical reality as well as the possibilities offered by the online world, we wanted to do something heartening that incorporated interaction with our shut down city. A purely virtual approach didn’t feel quite right; the exhibition needed warmth and a sense of physical connection to counter the feelings of isolation and sadness brought on by the pandemic. Thus, we staged FRESH: Preview amidst stacks of drywall, idle power tools and construction debris in our half-renovated gallery space. We see it as an exercise in adaptability and fortitude, bringing elements of the raw physical space to the virtual experience.
Not knowing what we’d find when we arrived at the gallery, we had a loose plan to install the show somewhat in keeping with the original exhibition layout, but working only with pieces we’d transported from Cuba prior to the shutdown and those we could collect from artists living locally. This conventional approach shifted quickly when we found the space full of construction material, equipment and debris. Rather than moving these things to accommodate the plan, we opted to leave the gallery undisturbed and situate the work throughout the space. There seemed to be a natural home for each work where it interacted with the rough surroundings, creating the unforeseen compositions pictured here.
As the original opening exhibition press release would have explained: The show brings together artists from Cuba who take an innovative approach to technique, subject, medium and style, and provides a glimpse of Cuban contemporary art today. Living in Cuba and the United States, the artists are at different stages in their careers. Their work is largely new to the United States, and some are being exhibited in New York City for the first time.
Will the original show happen? Should it happen? Will it be relevant? This all remains to be seen, but what is clear is that the impact of the novel coronavirus and the long-needed end to silence about anti-black racism in our society has created space for positive change. Our hope is that we all come together and use our shared creativity to envision, build and sustain a future where people are not oppressed because of race, identity, gender or for any reason at all.