The puppet theaters house the paper cut-out dolls that coincidentally resided in the back of those very publications. Rivalta’s inclusion of the Black Cuban Matryoshka attempts to compensate for what she experienced as a dearth of such expressions of hybridity among, not just the pages of Mujeres and Muchacha magazines, but throughout the material culture of her childhood. Her bringing to life the magazine’s cuquitas within the teatrillos (puppet theater), surface centuries’ old legacies of national and transatlantic racial and class tensions as they are lived today by embodied Black female subjects.
Black female cut-outs’ revolving around the lights is a phantasmagoric reminder of the extent to which the Enlightenment’s notions of civilization are interwoven in these despicable histories whose legacies have yet to be undone or fixed. Rivalta refers to the Black matryoshka, as the conscience of cuquita, the happier and lighter paper cut-out doll, whose face at times resembles the artist’s. So does that of the Black matryoshka, whose face is more sorrowful. How could it not be, bearing the weight of such responsibility? By introducing this character into a new rendition of history, Rivalta questions if assimilation between Cubans and the Soviets was in fact an aim of the revolution, why wasn’t the impact of the Soviet paradigms on Black Cubans accounted for in the realm, for example, of popular culture.
Rivalta’s Black matryoshka also references the enslaved women who, as caretakers of white children in the colony, and then later, as freed Black women, impacted Cubans’ conceptualizations of the different worldviews that encompass Cubanía or Cubanness. Rivalta has explained this figure of the Black matryoshka in the context of the first of a three-part puppet theater entitled Tres Tiempos, exhibited here:
"No existen Matrioskas negras. En este caso la obra habla de la ciudad de Santa Clara, Villa Clara. La provincia central de Cuba, donde nace la artista. Habla de la partida de la artista afrodescendiente, al mismo tiempo que hace un paralelo con la llegada de los colonizadores a Cuba en 1492. Se puede ver un barco en el friso del teatro que está al fondo. La matrioskas negras que revolotean alrededor de la luz están hablando de este barco negrero."
 Gertrudis Rivalta, “Artist’s Explanation of Work Included in Selected Pages.”
Tres Tiempos: Uno: Gertrudis RIvalta