Y Sin Embargo, Te Quiero (And Yet, I Love You)
With this piece, I wanted to use the long-standing economic blockade on Cuba as a symbol for historical and ongoing interventions by the United States against foreign governments. Having cultural ties to the Cuban situation, I found the subject of the island’s refugees to have great potential for a visual metaphor of the foreign policy of the United States. The work consists of a 20' x 10' recreation of a typical Cuban refugee raft (a "balsa") made using discarded materials.
Paradoxically, Cuban-American exiles (staunch supporters of this embargo), such as those living in South Florida communities, are often the most affected interest group, as the embargo makes it extremely difficult for them to travel or send supplies to Cuba to aid their family members. For the people of Cuba, an embargo exists, irrespective of the United States, between them and their government, as Castro's regime has for a long time implemented nation-wide rations, whether during times of relaxed trade restrictions or not.
While the embargo is currently in a weakened state, under President Obama, it is undeniable that this five-decade-long crusade against socialism (having roots in the power struggles with the Soviet Union since the end of the Second World War) has failed and has done little to contribute to the enhancement of freedoms for the people of Cuba - many would even say it has directly harmed this cause.
My irreverent use of American icons, (the flag as a beach towel, the half-eaten cheeseburger and the soiled Coca-Cola cans) within the context of this dramatized voyage to freedom, hint at the inherent contradictions and hypocrisy found in the ideal of America as a welcoming land of freedom, and point one towards the disreputable reality of American governmental policies and corporations across the world.