Taguayabón, Far From the Biennial / Mario Barroso

For some weeks Havana has had its Biennial and as almost always in my little forgotten village life goes on between the tedium and mediocrity. Behind these airs of expositions and performances I can’t help but remember what happened in these parts a little after this particular cultural event in 2009.

Reinaldo Escobar and Yoani Sanchez had the crazy boldness to swim against the current and to visit this town to share with a group of locals things that at the time seemed like complete science fiction, things like the Internet and the blogosphere.

As a complement to their words, the friends from Havana projected — excellent value added to this stop of their blogger journey — a video of the performance that the painter Tania Bruguera presented at the Wilfredo Lam Center at that Biennel, under the title, “Tatlin’s Whisper.”

[Translator’s note: The above video is very poor quality but shows more speakers than the video below, which is good quality but omits the last several speakers.]

Yoani and Reinaldo’s journey occasioned, in Taguayabón, a revolt similar to that chronicled by Mikhail Bulgakov in The Master and Margarita when the devil and his minions visited Moscow. Yoani posted a text on her blog Generation Y about that time, titled “The Flight of Suzuki over Taguayabón” and I too have addressed that in other posts such as “Taguayabón DY.”

The agents of the political police, faithful to their ugly habits, tried to search out at any price what the transgressors said to the ignorance reserved for their “Revolution” in these regions; and to do this they subjected some of the privileged participants and their families to rough interrogations and pressures.Given that the issue of the Internet and the world of blogs evidently has no political color, the main suspicions fell on the strange video shown to those present.

Days later I willingly presented myself to the Muncipal Communist Party to demand that they give the order to stop the witch hunt unleashed on the town in an unprecedented police operation in which, in retaliation, even the horse of my poor brothers, who had not participated in the offending activity, was seized and to this day still has not been returned.

It was useless for me to explain to the cadre who saw me that it was Tania Bruguera, that it was a performance presented at the Biennial. For her, these “bad words” could only be more nonsense from the imperialists.

And this has been the greatest contact Taguayabón has had with a Biennial. While in Havana there was another edition of this art festival, life went on as if frozen in time in these parts and the same mediocre type of leaders of the single, failed and obsolete Party continue making the rounds at the cost of the life of a population increasingly depressed and alienated.

[Note: Here is a higher quality tape of the Tania Bruguera performance art at the Havana Biennial, but it does not include the last several speakers. Apparently the whole event lasted 41 minutes, but there were long pauses between speakers.]

July 24 2012