garage talk: “The Special Period” Cuban Culture in the 1990s

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On December 9, 2005 the haudenschild Garage presented a Garage Talk and film screening of Tropicola by in conjunction with conference The Special Period: Cuban Culture in the 1990s organized by Ariana Hernandez-Reguant. It brought together scholars, artists and journalists trying to work through the particular problems and efforts to resolve Cuban cultural life in the period directly following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Special Period. The conference culminated in a book, Cuba in the Special Period: Culture and Ideology in the 1990s (New Concepts in Latino American Cultures) 2009, edited by Hernandez-Reguant.

Click here for more information on the conference.

FRIDAY, DEC. 9
6:00 pm: OPENING AT THE haudenschild Garage
6:30 pm: FILM SCREENING OF STEVE FAGIN’S FILM “TROPICOLA”
Q&A SESSION WITH STEVE FAGINSATURDAY, DEC. 10

9:00-11:45. PANEL 1: COMMODITY CULTURE
Esther Whitfield (Comparative Literature, Brown University). Truths and Fictions. The Economics of Writing, 1994-1999
Cristina Venegas (Film Studies, UC-Santa Barbara). Filmmaking with Extranjeros
Ariana Hernandez-Reguant (Communication, UCSD). Revolutionary Dissonances: On Radio Taino.
Ivor Miller (Africana Studies, Columbia College). Abakuá Rhythms for Sale..
Kevin Delgado (Music, SDSU). Santeria as Spiritual Capital.
Discussant:
Dick Hebdige (Film Studies, UC-Santa Barbara)

12:45-3:30. PANEL 2: CITIZENSHIP AND SUBJECTIVITY
Laurie Frederik (Anthropology, U Chicago). La Batalla for Cuban Identity: Option Zero Theater.
Lillian Manzor (Literature, U. Miami). Theater in Two Shores.
Marc D. Perry (Anthropology and African American Studies, U Illinois). Hip Hop and the Making of New Black Critical Difference
Lisa Maya Knauer (American Studies, U Mass, Darmouth). HAV/NY: Rumba, translocality and publics
Denise Blum (Education, CSU-Fresno). Schooling Cuban Pioneers in the ideals of Che: New meanings.
Discussant:
Emilio Bejel (Spanish, UC-Davis)

3:45-5:30. PANEL 3: ALL THAT DANCE! TWO VIDEOPRESENTATIONS.
Berta Jottar (Latino Studies, Williams Col). Rumbeando with the Iremes. Central Park Rumba.
Jennifer Paz (QBA Media). I am Cuban, I am Popular The Musical Politics of David Calzado and the Charanga Habanera.

SUNDAY, DEC. 11
8:30-11:00. PANEL 4. CONTEXTS OF EXPRESSION
Antonio Eligio Fernandez “Tonel” (Spanish, U Texas, Austin). Dialogues on Pedro Alvarez
Ernesto Menéndez (Romance Languages, Duke U). Cold stridency: Kitsch appropriations in Cuban art of the 1990s.
Jacqueline Loss (Comparative Literature, U Connecticut). Wandering in Russian
Ana Maria Dopico (Comparative Literature, NYU). Dentro de la Fotografia, Todo: Politics and the Imaginary of Photography in the Special Period.
Discussant:
Betti-Sue Hertz (SD Museum of Art)

11:00-12:15. ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION AND CLOSING REMARKS Can We Speak of a Late Socialism a la Cubana?

About Tropicola

Tropicola is a feature length film shot in Havana at the height of the Special Period,1996-97. A provocative glimpse of life in contemporary Cuba, this playful movie with an excellent TIMBA soundtrack captures the color and rhythm of this vibrant nation while intelligently examining the problems facing Cuba during its current economic restructuring. From young Cuban women running off with tourists, to black market moneymaking schemes, Tropicola stresses the spirit, humor, tenacity and resourcefulness of the Cuban people as they bravely face their changing reality. The piece combines fictional, documentary and performance-based strategies to give a complex and percussive feel for Havana at a very “special” moment in time.

About Steve Fagin

Steve Fagin (stevefagin.net) is Professor of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego, and has produced a series of feature length videos including The Amazing Voyage of Gustave Flaubert and Raymond Roussel, The Machine That Killed Bad People and TropiCola. These films have been featured prominently at museums, international film festivals, art biennials and have been screened on Bravo International in Latin America, Canal + in Europe and PBS in the United States. His work has had a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and is the subject of a book from Duke University Press, Talkin’ With Your Mouth Full: Conversations with the Videos of Steve Fagin. The work has been presented at both the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York in many contexts including both of their summary shows of the essential art of the twentieth century. From 2005-2009 he worked as creative consultant for the haudenschild Garage and commissioning editor of the hG, Spare Parts projects. The Last Book, an hG, Spare Parts project, was conceived and directed by him. Currently he is working on a feature film, A Cloud of Hope, about the independence movements in Africa, circa 1960 and on a series of “smart phone pieces”, both as commissioning editor and as one of the artists for LACMA.

About Ariana Hernandez-Reguant

Hernandez-Reguant is a former resident of Cuba. A professor at UCSD, she teaches courses related to contemporary Cuba, such as the cinema of the Cuban revolution, Ernesto “Che” Guevara and revolutionary cultural politics, to globalization and late socialism and to ethnographic approaches to cultural and media production, cultural circulation, and politics of culture with a focus on Latin America. Her expertise includes anthropology and cultural studies, the music business, and socialism. She is also interested in Latin American societies, with emphasis on Cuban politics, culture and their relationship with the United States. Hernandez-Reguant has many publications on topics such as popular culture, mass media and cultural policy in revolutionary Cuba, arts, politics, commerce, value and subjectivity in late socialism, the Marxist theory and cultural production/circulation, as well as Latin American cultural studie