Born in Cuba in 1970, Hernández moved to Europe in 2003 and currently lives and works between Havana and Düsseldorf

Fruits of evil Solo booth at ArtBasel Miami with Galería Pepe Cobo

“The Weird, the Wild and the Wonderful (An Art Basel Wrap-up)” by Elizabeth Fernández ruits of Evil, an installation piece by Diango Hernández, drew my attention as I stepped into the convention center. It definitely stood out, the forest of black half-filled light bulbs in stark contrast to the white walls of the exhibitors’ booths, but it left me asking what one would do with such a work once purchased. As evocative as it was, I could not imagine any practical way of displaying the work outside of a gallery or a museum. Frequently throughout the day, I found myself struck by the impracticality of so much of Art Basel. The show possesses a delightful sort of uselessness. The experience itself is reason enough for its existence, and that holds true for the artwork as well… ...

Dictators Solo exhibition at Galerie Frehrking Wiesehöfer, Cologne

“Varadero Beach” by Diango Hernández aradero beach and Guantánamo bay by Diango Hernández. Domestic objects twisted by political slogans, so twisted that they became art pieces. Dictators sometimes make us happy and sometimes very sad. They produce anthems, huge monuments, walls and wars, they have the power to be our only god and they last longer than marble. This exhibition presents a group of “phrases and drawings” that reflect the relation between the dictators and the hope of their victims; showing the art field as a space where personal testimonies can be revealed and can be as effective as they are on my notebook. In the 90’s during a trip to Varadero Beach on a 21st of June I witness a “permanent sunset”; the sun stayed longer than usual on the horizon, it was immovable, half of it was under the water and the other half was burning in the sky, transforming the Varadero beach into a red beach. The sun didn’t move but we did. Sunsets are always romantic (see Glen Rubsamen paintings); for some reason sunsets come in the same package as love does, no matter if the love is real or paid. The 21st of June is also the longest day in Cuba and it is usually a very beautiful summer day, if you go to Varadero Beach you will see how during this day the blue sky becomes beach and how the beach becomes a place without Cubans. Guantánamo bay and Varadero Beach, for completely different reasons, are the only two pieces of Cuban land that Cubans are not allow to step on. I didn’t go to Guantánamo City, it always was, and still is today too faraway from my hometown.  I got to know at school about the Guantánamo’s American military base but somehow neither books or teachers seduced me enough to travel there; nevertheless I knew about the 2 meter high fence that surrounds the American occupied area and I knew also that people living in the villages around the military base can reach American television channels using ordinary antennas but nobody can’t get closer to the Military Base perimeter because it is all sheltered with anti-personnel landmines. One day reading a Cuban magazine from the 70’s, I discovered a full page picture of an American soldier showing his ass to a Cuban coastguard that was standing just in the other side of the fence; the magazine article talked about a series of provocations by American soldiers towards Cuban coastguards, provocations that ended up with the death of a Cuban coastguard shot by an American sniper. I cut out the picture of the American soldier’s ass and I glued it into my songbook just there beside the lyrics of Guantanamera. Guajira Guantanamera (1928, “Countryside girl from Guantánamo”) is perhaps the best known Cuban song and it tells the story of a beautiful girl born in Guantánamo.  This song has a very particular structure and history, it doesn’t just have one composer, it has been modified over time; neither its rhythm or its melody has changed so much but its lyric, in the internationally known version the song includes the first poem in the collection Simple Verses by Cuban poet and National hero José Martí, also known as “El apostol” (The apostle). José Martí has a monument in the Central Park in Havana as well as in Central Park in New York. In the evening of the 3rd of March of 1949 three drunk Americans marines climbed up and pissed on the José Martí’s Havana monument. The next morning after the incident, the picture of the three white uniformed American marines on top of the white marble monument was the highlight of couple of national newspapers. If you have a closer look at that picture you will recognize how bizarre it is, the marines look like three monkeys on top of a white tree, but the most amazing thing about it is how the marines became part of the monument and as a result part of our daily life. Since I glued the picture of the American solder’s ass into my songbook next to the Guantanamera lyrics I always have fantasized what this beautiful girl from Guantánamo and José Martí would think about the American soldier’s ass, and I am quite sure that they would have a very different opinion about it. ...

Inside the mouth of the panther Group exhibition at "The Unhomely: Phantom Scenes in a Global Society" curated by Okwui Enwezor at 2nd Seville Biennial, Seville, Spain

nlike most of the Cuban artist who have risen to international prominence in the last decades, Diango Hernández is a graduate of Havana’s Superior Institute of Design (ISDI) and not of its Institute of Art (ISA). But it is precisely his training in design that proved to be crucial in infiltrating an art system predicated upon the production and dissemination of objects which, taking Duchamp’s ready-mades as the ultimate justification of artistic license, have often relied upon little more than good design to be recognized as valuable. As the founding member of the artists collective Gabinete Ordo Amoris (1995-2003) Hernández was concerned not with the market value inherent to art objects but with that conferred upon everyday objects which come into existence in the absence of a market economy to support the industrial creation of even the most basic goods. A mix of Augustinian philosophy (Ordo Amoris) and of Dada-inflected collector craze (as in Cabinet de curiosités), both reflected in its name, Gabinete Ordo Amoris revealed its true aim as an anthropo-social investigation of contemporary Cubanidad by making it its signature practice to display collections of hand-made objects that emerged as part of the provisional culture of the country’s ‘special period.’ After dissolving the collective in 2003, Hernández diverted his working methodology from a museography of the present into an archeology of the future by mixing found objects with objects of his creation into assemblages of which the use has yet to be devised; or into environments that have somewhat of a surreal atmosphere. Bebe de Mis Rosas (2006) while displaying the signs of reassuring domesticity (the chimney, the desk, the lamp), upset the feelings of comfort that such environments usually arise by juxtaposing uncanny images like that of a bleeding rose. The dysfunctionality of the scene makes for a quiet critique of the realm of objecthood into which most. Robert Franklin Williams (February 26, 1925-October 15, 1996) was a civil rights leader, author, and the president of the Monroe, North Carolina NAACP chapter in the 1950s and early 1960s. At a time when racial tension was high and official abuses were rampant, Williams was a key figure in the American South and organized armed resistance against white supremacy. In 1961 Robert F. Williams found his way to Cuba, where he regularly made radio addresses to Southern blacks on “Radio Free Dixie”, a station he established with assistance from Cuban President Fidel Castro. Though the station’s signal was aggressively blocked by the US Government, it was for a time widely known among black Americans as a voice against oppression around the country. During this stay, together with his wife, he published the newspaper, The Crusader. It was also here that he wrote Negroes With Guns, which had a significant influence on Black Panthers founder Huey P. Newton. The Cuban poster printed in the late 60’s RETALIATION TO CRIME: REVOLUTIONARY VIOLENCE signed as (OSPAAAL¹ N.D. Offset 22″ x 13″) It has a lot to do with this relationship in between Cuban government and its support to different Afro- American organizations at that time and closely it has more to do with the relationship of Robert F. Williams and Fidel Castro. The series of 30 drawings conforming “Inside the mouth of the panther” is a hand made reproduction of this poster’s motive where the inside of the panther mouth becomes a sort of deformed abstraction. Each one of the drawings is showing outside the mouth of the panther a small almost invisible hand written phrase that goes from Article No.1 Power to Article No.30 Power. These phrases make reference to each one article of the International Human Rights Declaration. The Cuban support specially during 60’s and 70’s to all of the liberation movement around the world is not a secret by now, exiling a figure like Robert F. Williams is just one of the cases of “fighters for the freedom” that were exiled in Cuba. With “Inside the mouth of the panther” I just want to make the following commentary: Why the Cuban government have been not able to accept the “fighters of the freedom” that their own system have created? Then the mouth of the panther and all of the loud screams of it have become an abstraction.   1. The Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America (Organización de Solidaridad con los Pueblos de Asia, Africa y América Latina), abbreviated as OSPAAAL, is a Cuban political movement with the stated purpose of fighting globalisation, imperialism, neoliberalism and defending human rights. It publishes the magazine Tricontinental. The OSPAAAL was founded in Havana in January 1966, after the Tricontinental Conference, a meeting of leftist delegates from Guinea, the Congo, South Africa, Angola, Vietnam, Syria, North Korea, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Chile and the Dominican Republic. Mehdi Ben Barka, the Moroccan leader of the Tricontinental, was murdered the year before, allegedly with complicity of the CIA. Catalogue: BIACS: The Unhomely – 2nd International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville. Paperback: 336 pages, Publisher: Actar (Oct 2006), Language English, ISBN-10: 9788493487935, ISBN-13:, 978-8493487935, ASIN: 8493487937, 23.6 x 16.8 x 2.8 cm ...

Cris(is)Home Group exhibition "Zones of Contact" curated by Charles Merewether at Biennial of Sydney

hat it was ours It’s still ours, but now the ruined F is my home. Whether an improvised wall a corner of a house or the half of a box can be associated to the appearing of “Cris(is)Home” and it’s constructed out of an old and ruined fragment of industry’s roof. This “object” shows two faces, one it’s the outside of a roof, made out of corrugated metal, two chimneys and a light window and its second face it’s the inside of the roof that shows its inner structure and it has hanging on it an improvised screen on which will be projected a video called “Emilya and the pike”. “Emilya and the pike” is a Russian folktale and tells the story of how a lazy and foolish guy became king using the will of a charmed fish. The video is made by fifty images that were used in Cuban schools during the 60’S, 70’s and still in the 80’s to teach the history of communism and each one of these slides came originally with a text explaining the slide itself and talking about how good and glorious was the process of building the communism and how brave were its leaders. These texts are now in the video substituted by the folktale’s text where the main character of the tale (Emilya) it is now played by Vladimir I. Lenin. The sequence of images is accompanied with “Rapsodia Cubana” a music piece composed by Ernesto Lecuona in 1955 and performed by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Bartos. The sustained economical and political crisis that started in the early 90’s in Cuba has brought to the ordinary individual the urgency of surviving, the everyday life became a battle field where people struggled hard in every corner to get what they need for living, everybody was using what it was already a ruin or any forgotten fragment to build something useful out of it. All the promised economical development of the Revolution collapsed, the industrial aims achieved in the 80’s thanks to the contribution of the Socialist countries from the east were fading out fast and in the turn of two years the scenario was again without hope, like it use to be for us a century ago, without allies and with many enemies, the biggest: The Soviet phantom. The official construction of a new style of life was already established in the 90’s, style of life that was baptized by the government as “Período Especial en Tiempo de Guerra” (Special period for war times) this was an extreme period where the government wouldn’t support anymore the basic needs of the population as they where doing it before, I am talking around mid 90’s, by that time there was a popular voice saying every day “hay que luchar” (we have to fight) what it means we have now to figure out our life by our owns and to wait for a new and official definition of future. Cris(is)Home explore the surviving of the individual freedom in certain kinds of political crisis and present the education as a process of indoctrination where the only cure we can have against it are our personal fantasies and to use their power to transform (for instance) the history in a big toy.   Catalogue: A full colour catalogue of 304 pages provides a comprehensive overview of the exhibition, its artists, and the ideas that informed it. The publication features an extensive essay by Charles Merewether and eight specially commissioned texts by leading writers from around the world: Jack Persekian, Branislav Dimitrijevic, Viktor Misiano, Hou Hanru, Chaitanya Sambrani, Peter Osborne, Natasa Petresin, and Rasha Saiti. Also included are commissioned texts by 85 international writer on each of the participating artists. ...

Spies Solo exhibition at Alexander and Bonin, NY

iango Hernández’ first exhibition in North America will open at Alexander and Bonin on April 15, 2006. Spies will be shown concurrently with Traitors at Galería Pepe Cobo in Madrid. Born in 1970 in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, the artist has lived in Europe since 2003. The work in both exhibitions reflect his analysis of the iconography and rhetoric of the Cuban revolution and the tensions and absurdities of the North American-Cuban relationship since the 1960`s. The exhibition is a group of “reports to the enemy” that reflects the relationship between an artist and a spy. For his exhibition at Alexander and Bonin, the artist has created works incorporating found objects such as record players, speakers and domestic furniture as well as language and sound. Drawing (Presidents’ secrets), upside down lamps project transcriptions of secret phone conversations between Kennedy, Rusk, McNamara, Johnson and others onto an installation of record players set on coffee tables. Drawing (living inside my drawers) is a small cabinet on whose open drawers two texts are projected: speeches given by John Kennedy at the time of the missile crisis in 1962 and by Fidel Castro concerning the US spy flights over Cuba. This work also includes a piano composition by the Cuban composer, Ernesto Lecuona. Wake me up is a series of ten drawings in which inkjet images of the ten American presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to George Bush are combined with an ink self-portrait of the artist asleep on their shoulders. Rather than an ‘iron’ or a ‘bamboo’ curtain, Hernández will exhibit Paper Curtain in which partially burned holes reveal small drawings and the text, “After some time, democracy is just another utopia, but I have already a better utopia to dream with”. In 1994, Diango Hernández began his artistic practice in Cuba as a co-founder of Ordo Amoris Cabinet, a group of artists and designers who focused on invented solutions for home design objects by Cuban citizens compensating for a permanent shortage of materials and goods. Diango Hernández lives and works in Düsseldorf. His work has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at the Städtischen Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach and Kunsthalle, Basel. A video and sound installation was included in Always a little Further at the 2005 Venice Biennale and he will exhibit in the forthcoming Biennale of Sydney (June) and São Paulo Biennial (October). ...