TCNJ Wind Ensemble’s Trip to the CBDNA by Andrew Unger

As part of the TCNJ Wind Ensemble, Music major Andrew Unger traveled to Boston for the College Band Director’s National Association (CBDNA) Eastern Division Conference. Read more about his impressions of this three-day conference and of the TCNJ Wind Ensemble’s performances!

In the first week of March, the TCNJ Wind Ensemble made a three-day trip to Boston to perform at the College Band Director’s National Association Eastern Division Conference. In attendance were prominent band directors from around the country, while musicians of all stripes joined to contribute to the interdisciplinary program.

On the first day of our journey, the bitter cold could not distract us from giving a powerhouse preview performance at JP Stevens High School. We swiftly set up shop on the stage of the school’s auditorium, including a hub of electronics equipment and an extensive battery of percussion instruments, and presented Pulse for a large and appreciative audience.

Professor David Vickerman and TCNJ Wind Ensemble

Professor David Vickerman and TCNJ Wind Ensemble

The first event of our first morning in Boston was a presentation at the New England Conservatory on the beginnings of the Third Stream Revolution. The discussion featured Gunther Schuller and David Amram, two extremely important composers and horn players who are well known for their proficiency as both classical and jazz musicians. To hear these legends of 20th century music speak was as inspirational as it was awe-inspiring. Clearly young at heart, they both shared their early experiences as professional musicians and the difficulties and ridicule that they faced as interdisciplinary musicians.

I was so moved by David Amram’s passionate humanist sentiments that I decided to stay behind after the talk to introduce myself. I am typically hilariously clumsy in these social situations, but in this case I was unusually nervous. I fidgeted just a few yards away from Amram and a group of his friends for what seemed like hours as I attempted to work up the courage to speak to this living legend.

Once I finally approached him, his warm smile and kind words completely disarmed me. I could hardly speak, and my few stammering utterances, “thank you,” “advice,” and “scared,” were buried by his sincerity and willingness to calm my nerves. To meet such a prominent musician who had had the same insecurities and uncertainties that I have when he was my age re-instilled a long-lost feeling of hope in me. By the time he had dumped four of his inscribed CDs in my hands and firmly patted me on the back, I realized that we were the only two people left in the hall.

Thanking him one last time, I stumbled outside to learn that I was fifteen minutes late to pick up my horn from the bus. Had my friends not been thoughtful enough to keep my instrument safe and bring it to our next location, I might not have been able to retrieve it in time for the evening performance.

Professor David Vickerman and TCNJ Wind Ensemble

Professor David Vickerman and TCNJ Wind Ensemble

That afternoon was spent hearing the Gotham winds, attending a presentation on George Gershwin, and exploring the dining options in Boston. I was eager to get on stage. By the time I returned to our beautiful performance venue, the Fenway Center, we had learned that some musicians from the Hartt School were late, so the TCNJ Wind Ensemble was to perform first. As I warmed up for the sound check, I noticed that two composers whose music was featured on our program were present: John Mackey and Christopher Stark. It was then that the nerves began to set in; I realized that there were many prominent figures in the audience who were waiting patiently to hear us. And as I had sincerely expected, our concert was well-received and applauded vigorously. I was happy and relieved to see the smiling faces of my friends and colleagues after the performance. We were all equally impressed with Dr. Vickerman’s passionate conducting and the masterful showcase given by our faculty soloists. It was a job well done.

Afterwards, the Hartt School’s contemporary music group, the Foot in the Door Ensemble, gave an exciting and engaging performance of the music of composers including Ives and Andriessen. I was impressed with the cohesiveness and showmanship of the musicians. It was a chamber performance set to the utmost professional standard, and I admired especially the diversity of their program.

The next day began with a composer’s round table discussion, at which many of our faculty and students heard John Mackey speak about his approach to composition. Afterwards, looking for a change of scenery, I joined a group of close friends at the New England Aquarium. I saw a really big turtle.

On the bus ride home, it was satisfying to reflect on these incredible experiences that I shared with my classmates and professors throughout the weekend. We gave two outstanding performances, experienced the sights and sounds of the city, and heard the wisdom of some extremely renowned musicians. I am so grateful to have been a part of this exciting endeavor so close to my graduation. I will not soon forget this conference or the friends who joined me there.

Theater as the Integrated Performing Arts by Shannon McGovern

Have you heard about the School of the Arts and Communication’s new Integrated Performing Arts minor? Find out everything you need to know from Shannon McGovern in her latest blog post below! For more information about the minor, please visit www.tcnj.edu/ipa.

Shannon McGovern is a junior Music student, with minors in Integrated Performing Arts and Management. She is a member of All College Theatre, Alpha Psi Omega, the TCNJ Chorale, and The Mixed Signals Improv troupe. She is looking forward to baking soufflés and cookies with her younger siblings over Spring Break.

At the end of last semester, I changed my major and added on 2 minors. As a Junior at TCNJ, this was one of the scariest decisions I have ever made. I switched from the Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree to a Bachelor of Arts in Music with minors in Management and Integrated Performing Arts. Though it was a terrifying decision to make, I am so excited to be studying things that I’m really, truly interested in — the main subject of which is theater.

When I first found out there wasn’t a specific route for studying theater at TCNJ, I was a little disappointed. However, after becoming a part of the Integrated Performing Arts minor (henceforth known as IPA), I realize this interdisciplinary minor is more valuable than a theater minor would ever be.

The IPA minor resulted when the Theatre and Drama Interdisciplinary minor was updated and renamed in Spring 2012. The goal of the IPA program “is to offer students an expanded experience in performance techniques using the various disciplines in the School and in the College.” There are requirements for Theory/History/Literature, Applied Music, Visual Arts/Interactive Multimedia, and Applied Theatre, Dance, and Production. Within the IPA minor, I have taken voice lessons, studied a little bit of computer programming, learned about art history, made a fool of myself in my hip-hop dance class, and have had more fun than I ever thought possible. I have a new appreciation for all of these realms of art and performance, and have realized that I can do most of these things to a passable degree.

The amazing part, is that all of these “different” arts inform and grow off of each other. When I’m learning a new song for my voice studio, I find symbols in the text that are commonly discussed in art history. During my dance class, I find myself applying my knowledge of music history to that of the development of ballet. Everything is interrelated in the arts, and you can’t truly master one without the knowledge of the others.

When you think about it, theater is the ultimate product of all that knowledge — it combines all aspects of art into one cohesive experience. In that case, doesn’t it make sense that I study the visual arts, music, acting, literature, and dance if my final goal is to continue creating theater? I know that the knowledge I am discovering in the classroom is improving my skills as a performer/collaborator/audience member in the theater. I feel very at home studying the Integrated Performing Arts, and I bet that if you love art in any form, you will as well. So if you’re trying to figure out what to do for those elective classes, why not talk to your advisor and think about taking up the minor? I promise it’ll be a lot of fun.

If you’re interested in any of the TCNJ student-run theater organizations, theater, switching your major, or the IPA minor or have any questions, feel free to email me at mcgoves1@tcnj.edu. Students may also contact any of the coordinators for the program: Terry Byrne (Associate Professor of Communication Studies, byrneter@tcnj.edu), James Day (Assistant Dean of The School of the Arts & Communication, day@tcnj.edu) or Robert McMahan (Professor of Music, mcmahan@tcnj.edu) for academic advisement regarding the minor.

For more information about the IPA minor, please visit www.tcnj.edu/ipa.

Andrew Unger: Spring Music Performances to Help You Forget the Winter Snow!

Andrew Unger, senior Music major, gets you up-to-date with the Department of Music’s events for this Spring 2014 semester! If you haven’t already, make sure you purchase tickets for these great upcoming performances at TCNJ, tcnj.edu/boxoffice.

We’ve had a seemingly endless winter to kick off 2014. When I’m scraping the frozen, stubborn façades of snow from the roof of my car every morning, it seems like there’s not very much to look forward to.

But that’s not the case. Eventually the snow will melt, and we at the music department will most likely celebrate by frolicking in the lawn outside the music building, with metronomes in hand and theory homework crumpled in our back pockets. A well-deserved celebration after a long couple of months.

In reality, we have plenty look forward to in terms of performances and touring. As I mentioned in a previous post, the TCNJ Wind Ensemble will be performing our new program Pulse at the College Band Director’s National Association’s northeastern conference in Boston in March. The hard work in putting together the concert will be showcased with Dr. David Vickerman at the helm in a performance given at TCNJ on February 28th, about a week before the CBDNA trip.

Additionally, I will be lucky enough to join the TCNJ Choirs in two upcoming performances: the third annual Hand-in-Hand concert at Lincoln Center, and the Purcellfest to be held at TCNJ. While I’ve been involved with the TCNJ choirs somewhat regularly throughout my career, I haven’t done so as a chorister since the spring of 2011. Needless to say, this is an exciting and welcome challenge.

At the Hand-in-Hand concert, we will be collaborating with Japanese high school students under the direction of the distinguished Maestro Atsushi Yamada in a performance of Carl Orff’s famous cantata, Carmina Burana. We are delighted about the fact that proceeds go to Eastern Japan’s long-term tsunami recovery efforts. Accompanying the choirs will be the Friends of Japan Orchestra, comprised of members of the New York City Opera Orchestra.

I’m particularly excited for the TCNJ Jazz Band’s Spring concert, featuring an all-Charles Mingus program. Under the direction of Dr. Gary Fienberg, the show will highlight the band’s guest soloist, Lewis Porter.

In the meantime, I will continue to begrudgingly brave the snow in the hopes that the sun will, indeed, come out tomorrow.

For information on these and more upcoming performances given by the TCNJ music department, you can visit: <http://music.pages.tcnj.edu/events/>.

Blogger Bonus!
What was the most exciting thing you did over winter break?

Andrew Unger: Hmm… I did my best to see as many concerts as possible during this winter break. I would say that the most interesting one was Verdi’s Falstaff given at the Met (I was also lucky enough to see Renée Fleming perform in Dvořák’s Rusalka just two days before she was to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl, but that was after winter break was already over).

Review of TCNJ Art Gallery’s Featured Exhibition: Ruane Miller: Through the Window of My Mind, by Scott Samuels

Scott Samuels, a junior studying Art Education and Spanish, kicks off the Spring 2014 semester with his review of TCNJ Art Gallery’s featured exhibition. Read more about Scott’s reactions, and be sure to check out the exhibition for yourself now through its closing date, February 20th! Scott’s Blogger Bonus is featured at the end of this post, find out what he’s looking forward to most this semester!

Ruane MillerThrough the Window of My Mind…Ruane Miller, Paintings and Prints
What: an exhibition of 46 prints and paintings by Ruane Miller
When: Jan 22 – Feb 20, 2014 (Gallery hours: Tues, Wed, & Thurs 12pm-7pm, Sun 1pm-3pm)
Where: TCNJ Art Gallery, AIMM Building, First Floor, Space 115

To commemorate the retirement of TCNJ faculty member Ruane Miller, the college is exhibiting a retrospective of her gouache paintings and digital prints.  The works feature vibrant color, undulating patterns and shapes, and symbolic representations of the various locales in which the artist worked, most notably the northern Arizona desert.  The show’s title, Through the Window of My Mind, reflects the deeply personal nature of the works, as well as their surrealistic and psychological elements.

Ruane Miller Image 1

Several works featured in Ruane Miller’s exhibition, “Through the Window of My Mind”

Miller’s works can be roughly divided into two groups: the digital compositions and the traditional paintings.  I feel the digital prints lend themselves to narrative, as they prominently feature the motif of a nude woman with short hair, depicted as a flat silhouette often with a glowing radiance around the edges.  Scenes from a Shadow Play contains no less than six copies of this enigmatic, curvilinear figure, framed in mysterious doorways, with a fuzzy turquoise tapestry weaving throughout the composition.  The largest figure dominates the lower half of the picture, and appears to be delicately holding her own head, or perhaps holding up binoculars to her eyes.  Since the figure is illustrated in a deep black with only a beige glow about the edges, the observer cannot discern whether she looks out into the pictorial space, or back at the viewer.  Or perhaps she is a stand-in for the real-life viewer, gazing surreptitiously upon the other female forms.

Ruane Miller Image 3

Several works featured in Ruane Miller’s exhibition, “Through the Window of My Mind”

Shadows Dance, another print from her Desert Light and Shadow Series, depicts the “silhouette woman” gazing out of an open door onto a sprawling desert landscape.  This picture seems to bring to life images from the subconscious; although the rock formations are strongly lit, the sky above is filled with deep gray rainclouds, recalling the visual trickery of René Magritte.  In the foreground, we see a literal interpretation of the piece’s title, as a row of small, floating, childlike silhouette figures dance under an instructor’s direction, each of them casting a shadow onto the sandy soil.

One of Miller’s most vibrantly colored digital prints is Desert Messenger, which shows the familiar silhouetted woman standing in a plain, smooth-walled room with petroglyphs carved into the far wall.  She stares out the window at a breathtaking, cloud-filled sunset.  A small bird is perched on the windowsill, and beneath the window sits an empty tribal-looking chair.  Is the woman waiting for a human presence to occupy the chair?  Or is the messenger the bird?  Or perhaps some unseen force or spirit living beyond the reach of our comprehension?

Ruane Miller & President

TCNJ President R. Barbara Gitenstein admiring one of Ruane Miller’s works

Among Ruane Miller’s gouache paintings are a series depicting the Arizona canyons.  In Canyon Music Composition #1, the artist simplifies the rock faces and utilizes repeating forms to suggest the immensity and depth of the natural wonders.  The canyons are painted in tones of rich burnt orange, punctuated with blue, green, and orange dots that resemble music notes on a staff.  The flowing river underneath is shown as a series of wavy lines of blue, red, yellow, and green; these are the “legato” passages in the composition, contrasted with the rigid “staccato” marks of the rocks.  Based on this model of abstraction, Miller moves further from naturalistic depiction and deeper into the nonobjective realm.  In Canyon Music Composition #2, the artist transforms the canyon into a winding road of perpendicular lines and carefully placed rows of green dots.  Using the strong complimentary contrast between the saturated blue background and the deep orange of the canyon, she gives us a sense of infinite depth, while simultaneously flattening real-life forms into geometric shapes.

Ruane Miller Image 4

Several works featured in Ruane Miller’s exhibition, “Through the Window of My Mind”

Miller’s subtle, beautiful recording of landscapes onto paper continues in Canyon Music Composition #3, in which the sky, clouds, mountains, and desert landscape seem stacked on top of each other like layers of sedimentary rock.  These background components are lightly painted in pastel shades, whereas the nearer rock formations pop off the canvas with hues of scarlet, blue, and gold.  In this picture, the rocky outcrops resemble a child’s building blocks, resting on each other in leaning columns that seem on the verge of toppling over.  The abstraction process reaches its conclusion in The Canyon’s Elemental Dance #1 and #2.  In these paintings, the natural elements are broken down into colorful lines and flat shapes: the canyons become orange rectangles with yellow stripes, the rivers turn into wavy or zig-zag lines, and the clouds are merely flat amorphous shapes with bright, radiating borders.

Finally, I think the most breathtaking painting in the exhibition is Dusk of Dawn…A Wakening, for its harmonious colors, flowing forms, and sensual qualities.  A gray-silhouetted woman lays along the picture’s bottom edge, enveloped in red flowers and flowing yellow draperies.  The outline of her feminine shape, her hair, and the border of her bedside window are embellished with pearls, and through the window, a blackbird glides in holding a pearl in its beak.  Behind the bird, the vista is a blooming cloudscape rendered in soft pink, gold, orange, and purple.  The female form and copious flower petals suggest fertility, rebirth, and rejuvenation, and the pearl in the bird’s mouth can be read as the egg of conception.  Though all of Ruane Miller’s captivating images have something to tell the viewer, I think Dusk of Dawn most powerfully brings us into her mind and inspires us.

Ms. Ruane Miller

Ms. Ruane Miller, featured artist

Blogger Bonus!
What are you looking forward to this Spring 2014 semester?

Scott Samuels: This semester I’m looking forward to creating a mural in downtown Trenton at the Artworks Visual Arts Center with my Advanced Painting class.  We will be reaching out to the community for inspiration, and will be working under the mentorship of Will “Kasso” Condry, a mural artist born and raised in Trenton.

Leaving the Nest by Stephanie Schoppe, Graduating Senior

Stephanie Schoppe, Communication Studies major, will graduate from TCNJ at the end of this Fall semester. We thank Stephanie for sharing advice, her experiences, and her study abroad trip to South Africa with us! Please read her farewell post for The School of the Arts & Communication blog. Congratulations to Stephanie and all TCNJ students graduating this December!

“Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” This is a quote that my generation is very familiar with. It invokes a feeling that, even when you leave a place that holds so many memories for you, when you come back it feels like you never left. Leaving that place may be a little bit scary, of course. But while you’re gone, it’ll be there, filled with people ready to hug you and say, “Welcome back.”

This feeling is all too real for me at the moment. This is my final semester as a TCNJ student. I didn’t feel the despair and dread that comes with the registration period. I won’t be here to experience coming back from winter break in January and catching up on how everyone’s break was. Next semester someone else will be living in my room at my house. These things and more, whether I like it or not, are happening, and they’re happening faster than I really want them too.

I’m currently in the process of applying to grad schools. Whenever I work on my applications, I’m taken back to four years ago when I was applying to undergrad schools. The process was so exciting then. “I get to go to college and meet people from all over the state and I get to experience the typical college life and I’ll be away from my parents and it’ll be great!” And it was. It absolutely was. Fast-forward to today, and I still feel that way about applying to grad schools. Only now it’s a teensy bit bittersweet.

These four and a half years, I’ve done things I never thought I’d get to do. I got to act in plays. I got to sit front row to see some of my favorite comedians perform. I got to study in another country not once but twice; I’m going to London in January, which I’ve neglected to mention in my posts until now (sorry). I got to sing with people from Japan. I made a difference in the world just by baking really cool-looking cupcakes. And I got to witness the initial outrage over our now beloved, shiny, and colorful balls.

Do I have advice for my friends who are graduating in May? I do. Don’t worry about it. I have to tell myself that at least once every single day. The more you panic about getting a good grade on the GREs or the LSATs or getting a job right out of school, the more you’ll stress and burn yourself out, and trust me, you don’t want to do that. Don’t overstress yourself so much that you forget to enjoy your final semester as a TCNJ Lion. Go to the C-Store, buy a lot of ice cream, and watch a bad movie with your friends. Listen to your iPod and take a walk by the lakes. Then go sit by the lakes and just be in that moment. Do something as simple as taking a nice, two-hour nap one day. You’ve worked so hard the last four years, and you deserve to enjoy every moment before you leave here.

To the freshmen coming up on completing their first semester of college, you don’t need to have anything figured out now. I’ve heard some of my friends who are freshmen worry about graduating in four years and about what they want to do with your life. It’s okay to not have that figured out now. If you worry about what’s after college, you won’t enjoy what’s going on in college now. Explore a little. Join a club you’d never think to join. Take classes in a variety of departments if you can. Don’t spend all your time worrying about what to do after graduation. You’ve got four years to do that. Also, not graduating on time isn’t as bad as it sounds. Speaking from personal experience, it’s really, totally fine.

To conclude my final blog post as a TCNJ student, TCNJ has been my second home for 4 1/2 years. It feels weird to leave; you’re not supposed to leave your home, right? Some of my best friends are here, and will still be here when I leave. I’m not ready to leave now, and I probably won’t be ready to leave in December. But I know if I need to, I can always come back to TCNJ, where there will be students and professors here ready to welcome me home.

Adventures in Pittsburgh: The Annual Meeting of the American Musicology Society by Andrew Unger

Senior Music major Andrew Unger recounts his recent trip to Pittsburgh for the American Musicological Society’s annual conference. Find out more about his experience, and how TCNJ’s Department of Music was represented at the conference!

On November 7-10 at the Wyndham Grand Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh, the American Musicological Society held its annual conference.

The AMS is an organization comprised of scholars and musicians from all over the country, ranging from ambitious graduate students in historical musicology and ethnomusicology to seasoned veterans of the field who teach at high-caliber universities. At the annual conference, over 100 papers are given by noted scholars and advanced graduate students alike, on topics ranging from 13th century motets, to Debussy, to the music of Star Trek.

I woke up at 4am, dreary-eyed and impossibly tired, on the morning of the 9th to catch a flight to the City of Bridges with my colleague Kevin Whitman. Post-arrival, the two of us enjoyed getting the most that we could out of our attendance at the conference.

Our main activity was hearing papers throughout Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, one of which being “Slonimsky’s Held,” given by TCNJ’s own Dr. Wayne Heisler as part of the panel, “Music, Jews, and Other.” Dr. Heisler also chaired the panel “Ballet and the Modern” and finished the final year of his term as a member of the Board of Directors. I was disappointed to miss a paper given by former TCNJ adjunct professor of music, Dr. Jessica Chisholm, as part of the “Sources and Scribes” panel.

Kevin and I were lucky enough to speak with professors and students from various universities and schools of music. We especially enjoyed having dinner with two TCNJ alumni, Jeremy Frusco and Tom Hanslowe from Florida University and Tufts University, respectively. Both Kevin and I happen to be pursuing graduate school for historical musicology, so these experiences were highly valuable for us in the midst of application season. Overall, this was a wonderful, eye-opening experience that I would recommend to anyone who has a keen interest – professional, academic, or otherwise – in any musicological or historiographical subject. I’m already looking forward to Milwaukee 2014!

Review of TCNJ Art Gallery’s Featured Exhibition: Video Cubano, by Scott Samuels

Please welcome Scott Samuels, a junior studying Art Education and Spanish, to the TCNJ School of the Arts & Communication blog! Scott reviewed the TCNJ Art Gallery’s featured exhibition, Video Cubano, which is on display now through December 15, 2013. See what Scott’s reactions were, and be sure to check out this free exhibition for yourself before the end of the semester!

Scott Samuels

Scott Samuels, Junior, Art Education and Spanish

Scott Samuels is a junior studying Art Education and Spanish.  His hobbies include painting, playing drums, tennis, and creative writing, and he is currently coaching the speech and debate team at Bridgewater-Raritan High School.

 Video Cubano:
What: Video Cubano, a collection of 22 videos from 18 Cuban artists
When: October 23 – December 15, 2013 (Gallery hours: Tues, Wed, & Thurs 12pm-7pm, Sun 1pm-3pm)
Where: TCNJ Art Gallery, AIMM Building, First Floor, Space 115
www.tcnj.edu/artgallery

Hamlet Lavastida (b. 1983), Reflexión, 2009. DVD 3:05, courtesy the artist and The 8th Floor.

Hamlet Lavastida (b. 1983), Reflexión, 2009. DVD 3:05, courtesy the artist and The 8th Floor.

The current exhibit in The College of New Jersey’s Art Gallery features videos by artists from our island neighbor to the south.  The goal of the show is to let Cuban art permeate the sometimes impenetrable wall that exists between Cuba and the United States, giving us a glimpse at life within the socialist state, and providing Cuban visionaries the opportunity to share their stories.

The exhibition’s official pamphlet contains a brief interview with one of the artists, Geandy Pavón, which sheds light on the power of art and anti-government sentiment in Cuba.  Pavón recalls that on the opening night of his first exhibition in 1988, a multitude of people showed up, including many who had no particular interest in art, simply because they had heard that the works “portrayed Castro and some of the issues that were taboo in the country at the time.”  But before the doors could open, the state authorities intervened, prohibiting the controversial works from being shown.  In response, the artists extricated their pieces and displayed them in a well-lit storefront, an act which became “a public catharsis” for scores of frustrated Cuban citizens who could not freely and openly express their political views.

Geandy Pavón’s contribution to Video Cubano is a piece called “Timing Revolutions,” in which we see a pair of hands folding a photograph of a fatally wounded Ché Guevara into an origami elephant, perhaps signifying a Hinduism-inspired reincarnation of ideals.  Sandra Ramos gives us a heart-pounding relay race, or “Carrera de Relevo” in which hand-drawn, cartoony figures pass a green baton inside a cavernous stadium filled with roaring fans.  The baton starts off in the hands of a Renaissance prince, who runs it to Uncle Sam, who passes it to Hitler, then to Lenin, and then to Fidel Castro, who, being shot by an unseen bullet, collapses and tosses the baton precariously to a young girl dressed in pink.  Ramos’s animation suggests the notion that, after an age of shifting political ideologies, the power of the idea is finally in the hands of the people.

Jeosviel Abstengo-Chaviano’s “Prendas Corpus” is a series of clips where various individuals (whose faces are off-screen) strap slabs of raw meat onto different parts of their bodies, trying to assimilate the extra flesh in order to smuggle it to their destination.  “Concierto” by Analía Amaya is a beautiful rendition of nighttime scenes in Cuban neighborhoods, in which the vistas are built piece-by-piece to a moving classical score reminiscent of the climax of a dramatic film.  And Alexandre Arrechea’s “Making Room” features a split screen: on the right a wrecking ball demolishes a historical building in black and white, while simultaneously on the left, a dark-skinned man dons multiple pairs of pants in an ambience of electronic trance music.

One of the more powerful videos is “La Ronda” by Adonis Flores, in which a Cuban soldier dressed in camouflage prowls the streets of an affluent city on all fours, wearing five-fingered black rubber boots on his hands to match the conventional boots on his feet.  Onlookers cautiously move out of the way as he struggles by, some staring with curiosity and others aghast.  A symbolically loaded piece comes from Amilkar Feria Flores, whose work “Tengo una idea” shows a hand lighting a match against a black background.  The match then ignites a row of tiny human figures standing arm in arm, whose heads are themselves made of matches which promptly burst into flames, signifying the incendiary spread of ideas and the potentially destructive aftermath.

“Invencible” by Ricardo Miguel Hernandez is a frantic scene of shaky handycam footage showing a man darting behind barricades, tossing Molotov cocktails at an unseen enemy.  We are immersed in the din of explosions, helicopters, gunfire, and sirens, yet when the character finally gazes out from behind a rusty barrel, we see that there is no assault, just an empty field in front of him.  Finally, “Diglosia” by Ernesto Leal is a compilation of words filmed from different billboards, signs, and advertisements, which form the sentences of a political discourse.  The words come from different public places throughout Cuba; some seem old and withered, some are new, some zoom in or out, others are out of focus.  At the outset of the video, Leal provides a definition of the term “diglosia,” which represents the divergence of the two forms of a language, one written and one spoken.  When we interpret this definition in the context of the piece, we realize that a duality is set up between the language of pro-government propaganda, and the actual conversations that take place in Cuban homes regarding the country’s social and political situation.  One of the (translated) phrases reads, “Today’s Cuban no longer believes in the happy utopia of a supreme and immortal socialism.”  We see that a widening disparity exists between the communist party’s constructed public image and the living opinions floating in the minds of the Cuban people.

The works of Video Cubano are the vehicles of dissemination for a generation of artists acting as the leaders of a new ideological movement.  Through their images and sound, these artists aim to illuminate diverse perspectives, influence the world’s perception of Cuban society, and fight for the right of the Cuban people to be global citizens.

Video Cubano Opening

Opening reception of Video Cubano, a collection of 22 videos from 18 Cuban artists