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photo by Sandra Levinson
BACK CHANNEL TO CUBA authors William LeoGrande & Peter Kornbluh at new exhibit in Cuban Art Space
“THE US AND CUBA: 55 YEARS OF UNRESOLVED CONFLICT”
The Cuban Art Space at the Center for Cuban Studies, 231 West 29thStreet, 4th floor, opens a new exhibit on Wednesday, October 1 that explores the conflict-filled relationship between the United States and Cuba in the past 55 years. William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh will be here to talk about their new book, Back Channel to Cuba, which reprints hundreds of documents detailing secret talks between Cuba and the U.S., mostly during the Carter Administration. Using hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, posters, photographs, cartoons – even an Elian Gonzalez tee from a Havana march in 2000 – the exhibit reminds us that the United States and Cuba have endured hurricane-force winds of conflict that have swept across the ideological waters separating the two countries.
The Bay of Pigs, the Missile Crisis, the force of the almighty dollar, the Spanish-Cuban-American War, the Elian affair, the imprisoned Cuban 5, the decades-long embargo intended to strangle the small island (it hasn’t worked) – it’s all here, and much more. To see Fidel in a business suit walking through Central Park in 1955 is to realize, once again, how closely tied has been the history of Cuba and the U.S. What was he doing here? Raising money for his fight against Batista, of course. The man standing in front of the U.S. Embassy in Havana selling newspapers declaring that the U.S. has broken relations with Cuba has a huge grin on his face. Life, Look, Time, the NY Post, the Daily News, The New York Times – all had a field day with Fidel.
The exhibit is not a didactic commentary on these past 55 years. Instead, the curators have turned into works of art all of the paper products: newspaper articles swing in front of photographs and posters; artworks pop up in the middle of graphic political images (the best may be a sculpture of paper maché depicting the baseball “team of the century” by Cuan artist Alfredo Manzón with both U.S. and Cuban players); cartoons about U.S.-Cuba relations, from both U.S. and Cuban caricaturists, wend their way through the exhibit. There are albums of Fidel photos, an entire portfolio devoted to Elian, books and posters and pamphlets detailing the fight for the “Cuban 5” (now three) who are considered by all of Cuba to be political prisoners in the U.S. Blow-ups of the documents from Back Channel to Cuba detailing the secret negotiations cover the large back wall. Picasso’s drawings of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (done to raise money for their defense), incorporated into a Cuban poster, remind us that Cuba may be the only country in the world with a memorial sculpture dedicated to the Rosenbergs, in the middle of Havana.
The exhibit will be up through October—the 52nd anniversary of the Missile Crisis—and Back Channel to Cuba is available for sale at the Center for Cuban Studies book store.
For further information: Sandra Levinson, 212.242.0559 or
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The Center for Cuban Studies is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and all donations to the Center are tax-deductible. Donors to the Center are among our most-valued members because they help to insure that the Center’s mission will be fulfilled -- normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States which permit full cultural and educational exchange.