Tuesday, December 23, 2014

THE LIGHT IN CUBAN EYES, New Yorker Review of Mann show, bk honored at Cuban Biennial 5/23

La Prensa Review of the book and the ballet commissioned for the Biennial in Cuba


From Cuba Presentation on the book by Madeleine Plonsker & Nelson Ramirez


From Huffington Post a great link!

New Yorker Review of Mann Exhibition of THE LIGHT IN CUBAN EYES



PBS ArtBeat interview




Gorgeous Provocative Photography Exhibition at Robert Mann Gallery 6/26 and in new book


This is a story, begun in 2000, with an intrepid collector, Madeleine Plonsker. In Cuba on a cultural exchange trip, she discovered amazing photography. She returned in 2007 and continued to come. Her collection grew and no longer was she collecting 20th century European works. Plonsker was captivated by Cuban photography and the courageous artists, who often worked in secrecy. 

Photographic sculpture that from a distance appears as an antiquated T.V. screen; Havana’s Revolutionary Plaza photo shopped so as to appear underwater; a Russian nesting doll book that depicts the “good” Cuban citizen dressed in various Soviet guises; a satellite dish camouflaged in a huge black trash bag; a decaying classical building in old Havana, strangers pressed together on a traveling bus; a schoolboy weighted down with much more than his school bag.

These are images from Cuba’s “Special Period,” 1992-2012, when the former Soviet Union withdrew its economic support and Cuba was plunged into an extended period of deprivation. Embargoed away from the world with few cameras and expired film, the photographers of Cuba emerged from the shadows to show what was happening to their country.
The new book, THE LIGHT IN CUBAN EYES: Lake Forest College’s Madeleine P. Plonsker Collection of Contemporary Cuban Photography (March, 2015, Lake Forest Press), brings this work for the first time to U.S. and Cuban audiences. This is the first book entirely devoted to contemporary Cuban photography highlighting both emerging and established artists. The bilingual publication—the first book granted full support with permission to be distributed within Cuba by the Cuban Ministry of Culture—will be released in Cuba during the opening of the XII Bienal de la Habana in late May 2015. The Robert Mann Gallery in New York City will host a March launch in the U.S.

The story of THE LIGHT IN CUBAN EYES begins in 2002, when Madeleine P. Plonsker embarked on a cultural exchange trip to Cuba. Plonsker, a Chicago-based collector of twentieth-century masterworks on paper, thought she might collect a few souvenirs. She did not know the compelling works she uncovered would expand to the whole passage of a society in transition. THE LIGHT IN CUBAN EYES encapsulates this inspired vision.

Plonsker explains, "Cuban Photography has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past twenty years. Cuba's contemporary photographers are poised to reach a broader international audience, and the intent of my book is to bring you their story."

Here's the release for the opening at the Robert Mann Gallery, 3/26. First time work from Cuba's "Special Period," will be shown together in the U.S.


On the heels of the Obama administrationʼs momentous policy changes regarding US-Cuba relations, Robert Mann Gallery is pleased to announce The Light in Cuban Eyes, a group exhibition of contemporary Cuban photography. This will be the first New York exhibition focused on work made during and after Cubaʼs “Special Period,” the time of extreme hardship and poverty which followed the withdrawal of Soviet resources in the early 1990s. The exhibition will feature works by artists including Pedro Abascal, Pavel Acosta, Juan Carlos Alom, Jorge Luis Álvarez Pupo, Ramsés H. Batista, Raúl Cañibano, Arien Chang Castán, Reinaldo Echemendía Cid, Adrián Fernández Milanés, Eduardo Javier García García, Alejandro González, Glenda León, Donis Dayán Llago, Kadir López Nieves, José Julián Martí, Néstor Martí, Liudmila + Nelson, René Peña, Alejandro Pérez Alvarez, Michel Pou Díaz, Leysis Quesada Vera, Alfredo Ramos, and Lissette Solórzano.

In Cuba, cultural richness clashes with economic destitution, pride chafes against frustration, and beauty mingles with decay. From classic street scenes to metaphorical abstractions, traditional silver prints to the newest inkjet technologies, each artist grapples in his own way with the countryʼs coinciding and contradicting inherencies. Some, like Álvarez Pupo and José Julián Martí, capture unfamiliar moments of daily life in moody black-and-white: a farmer provokes a rooster for a cockfight, and suited men conceal binoculars like guns behind their backs. Quesada Vera and García García invoke more poetry in presenting Cubaʼs scenery, with monumental waves crashing against a stony shore and white linens fluttering like peace flags above the city.

Others find indirect methods of artistic commentary. Acostaʼs bright, colorful portraits of old automobiles subtly and wryly reference the Cuban governmentʼs prohibition of new cars and the peopleʼs ingenuity in personalizing their ancient vehicles. With Manet-like black backdrops and sharp front-lighting, Fernández Milanés comments on Cuban stereotypes by presenting exotic dancers as plasticine figurines. And some, like Liudmila & Nelson and Batista, direct their statements towards Cubaʼs most enduring symbol—the body, joining and struggling against the narrow sea. From this small island nation, these artists present divergent bodies of work that pay tribute to the rich cultural history of their homeland while looking toward the future.

The exhibition is inspired by long-time patron of Cuban photography Madeleine P. Plonsker, who has been traveling to Havana since 2002 to discover and support the work of emerging Cuban photographers.
Coinciding with the exhibition will be the release of the book The Light in Cuban Eyes, published by Lake Forest College Press and organized by Plonsker. The Light in Cuban Eyes is the first North American publication with support from the Cuban Ministry of Culture and Fototeca de Cuba, Cubaʼs repository of photography comparable in function to the Smithsonian Photography Department in Washington, D.C.

View The Light in Cuban Eyes at www.robertmann.com beginning March 26, 2015.

Robert Mann Gallery is located at 525 West 26th Street, 2nd Floor. Hours are Tuesday - Friday,
10am - 6pm, and Saturday, 11am - 6pm. For additional information and press materials, contact the gallery by telephone (212.989.7600) or by email (mail@robertmann.com).