The Fair / Regina Coyula #Cuba

fiart 033
Tiled chair
alfarería utilitaria
Useful pottery
alfarería decorativa
Decorative pottery
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Botellón de agua devenido lámpara
Water bottle made into a lamp
Frente a un espejo de vidrio emplomado
In front of a stained glass mirror

Yesterday I went to the International Crafts Fair located in Pabexpo, an exhibition area in the northwest of the city. This is an expo/sale held every year on this date. The first thing that struck me was the number of people in a space as big as this, so many it was difficult to move and I was constantly stumbling.

The fair this year is much bigger than in past years, especially the area devoted to furniture. You can see that the artisans have seen many Ikea catalogs, the lines and feel of many stands seem taken from the pages of one of those Swedish catalogs. There are other things made with great quality, but that give me nightmares.

The men (or women) who make furniture (I don’t know if either of the two is correct), the lamp makers and the artisans in general who work on high value objects, don’t come to the fair to sell, simply to exhibit; they always have business cards in hand through which they can be contacted; they have webpages, Facebook sites. They are “in tune with the world,” to plagiarize ETECSA’s lying slogan.

The shoe section caught my attention for the number of exhibitors and the lack of imagination. Save the exceptions with good and original designs, the models repeated themselves in detail to the point of boredom. Yes, this shoe exceeds in quality-price what is sold in the hard currency stores, some offer shoes in boxes with their brand and logo, yes Sir!

The foreign representation seemed the same as last year: something from India, a lot of Andean weaving in the synthetic version, a lot of cotton clothing Made in China, and jewelry, the cheapest and most popular. Exhibitors have even come from Spain with merchandise purchased at bargain prices and despite export costs and exhibition, they do a good business. Cubans buy because it is cheaper there than in the store.

Another of the observations from my visit is that the simple artisans, many have become small (and not so small) and successful companies. I already said something similar the other day: in a city of two million people there is a “niche market” for everyone.

December 19 2012