State of SATisfaction / Reinaldo Escobar

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to participate as a spectator at the most recent edition of the Estado de SATS event where a group of young art promoters met to discuss alternative projects and censorship. The presence of an attentive and respectful audience, despite the threats that loomed from the authorities and their intentions to discredit a narrow sector of the opposition, was significant.

It was made clear that anyone who intends to undertake any independent project in the area of the arts will have to be willing to live with the anguish of a permanent state of war. The institutions whose ultimate goal is supposed to be promoting culture function as braking mechanisms, not only in terms of their pretensions to audit content, but also through the petty jealousies of their prominence.

In the year when the home-grown intellectuals have celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of “the words to the intellectuals” many of them have tried to clarify that maxim: “Within the Revolution, everything; against the Revolution, nothing,” does not mean a state of “being outside” the Revolution, but only one of “being against it.” However, the testimonies expressed in this discussion clearly showed that the process of institutionalization resulted in substitutions for the elements of the equation, leaving an unspoken rule: “Within the institutions some things; outside the institutions, nothing.”

Nevertheless, the oppressive force of this rule has not achieved its purpose of extinguishing the yearnings for freedom that dwell in the natures of creative people. Sometimes through playing with ambiguous language, other times appealing to clandestine tricks, or in some cases openly defying the censors and repressors, numerous Cuban artists have made their own a phrase attributed to José Martí: “He who is not able to create, is not obliged to obey.”