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♥ Like Cuba: Emerging Virtual Narratives

This series addresses digital culture and connectivity among the social and political contexts of contemporary Cuba. Participating artists employ a wide range of conceptual and formal strategies in order to speculate on the horizons of social media in a country that has historically had highly restricted access to open Internet. What does it mean to utilize social media in an artistic practice, in this time and place? When a social technology is so widespread and influential in so many other places across the world, but not yet a significant part of Cuban culture—how might artists anticipate and affect the eventual proliferation of social media across Cuba?

The artists commissioned for this series are actively engaging contexts of virtual activity, using Instagram as a studio space or a tool for exhibition. Their work deals with digital culture and the possibilities it raises for connectivity with (or disconnection from) a non-indexed political and social reality: Cuba.

Although statistics claim increases in connectivity, Cuba is still largely disconnected from virtual society at large. This is particularly evident when one looks at the customary use of Internet and social media by most Cuban citizens. Public Internet access points are highly monitored, and open access has historically been obtained through illicit channels. Some of this series’ commissions will explore these conditions of access, or position them as contextual backdrops.

Despite these limitations, recent diplomatic shifts signal the possibility of a more open future. Cuban society and culture will be transformed by increased access to digital technologies, but the country’s historically fraught relationship with connective infrastructures leaves a lasting mark on the way artists approach new media and digital sociality. The artists commissioned for this series explore the collective hopes, desires, and anxieties that attend issues of political flux and connectivity in Cuba, while stressing the chances and challenges that accompany expanding access to Internet and social media.