Tus manos están bien

17 Sep 2019 to 26 Oct 2019

Ivorypress presents Cuban artist Dagoberto Rodríguez’s first solo exhibition, entitled Tus manos están bien.

The show, open until 26 October 2019, brings together a series of works that revolve around the importance of the written word and its narrative and lyrical relevance, delving into an exploration of language and rhetoric using three apparently disconnected political and cultural phenomena.

A video uploaded to Twitter by combatants in the Syrian war showed a horrific and extremeact of faith: the dialogue held between two missile operators in the moment when one of them has just lost his hands. The chant-like structure of this conversation is reminiscent of Koranic verses. The artist captures this moment in a mosaic mural made using an ancestral Arabic tiling artisan technique, thus establishing a subtle contrast between the speed and volatility with which writing spreads on digital platforms and the traditional technique of carving messages into stone to make them last.

Language has always been of tremendous importance in the history and sensibility of Cuba. In the Emblemas series, Rodríguez combines hood ornaments from mid-twentieth-century North American cars, which symbolise capitalist development, with popular slogans and mottos spread during the Cuban revolution. In doing so, the artist synthesises the paradox that is precisely encapsulated in Cuba, where cars that represent the capitalistic development of the United States after World War II have been kept in use through sixty years of communism.

In the Oraciones series, the artist removes reggaeton song lyrics from their context and places them in a completely different framework: etched into stones, in a mode reminiscent of memorials. A close reading of some of those lyrics—engraved with Optima font as a reference to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.—brings some unexpected facets to light. The fact that, once removed from their context, many of the verses are scarcely distinguishable from political or even religious, discourse is very significant. On the other hand, the lyrics often also express underlying existential themes that reveal the fragility of marginal subjectivities and the human quest for transcendence.

This exhibition brings together a selection of pieces that work with diverse textures and the fragmentation of language in order to merge different historical forms of writing. The result is a sort of book-exhibition or, more precisely, tablet-exhibition (again, making a historical conceptual link with contemporary digital tablets). Amidst the trends and hyper-acceleration of communication, common aspects of the human condition appear, in their eternal quest for spirituality, power and poetry.