In this new body of work, Kevin Beovides presents abstracted portraits of Cuban emigrants. The artist asked his subjects to write epitaphs for their lives as if they had ended upon leaving Cuba. This request operates via a logic that counters the traditional immigration narrative often heard in the United States—namely the oversimplified assertion that those who attain permanent residence in the U.S. have “made a better life.” By presenting these auto-epitaphs on a social media platform, Beovides makes a winking acknowledgement of the ego saturation that often marks this mode of connectivity, also marking out a subtle critique of the cultural shifts that attend emigration. The subjects’ exercise of recollecting the details and achievements of their lives before leaving Cuba archives the milestones, relationships, and perhaps even the small details and textures that make up a life. The equation of emigration with death is a strong political gesture, emphasizing the transformative and divisive potentials of this event. Still, Beovides cultivates an ambivalent friction; leaving can be an end, but it can just as easily be interpreted as the beginning of a new chapter.
Kevin Beovides is an artist based in Havana. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy (2004) and Master of Arts degree in Art History (2011) at the University of Havana. He was a Teacher of Theory of Culture in the University of Havana (2010 – 2011), Teacher of Aesthetics and Arts in the Arts University of Cuba (2004 – 2011), and Chief of the Aesthetics Department in 2011. He was a member of the organizing committee of the International Colloquium of Aesthetics and Arts in the IV, V, VI and VII editions (2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011), and founder of the Internet project El Diletante Digital, http://www.eldiletante.com (2007). Beovides has given talks about Aesthetics and New Media Art at academic events in Cuba, Mexico and the United States, including “1er Festival Internacional de Narradores Jóvenes” (UNEAC, Cuba, 2008), “Curaduría de Arte” (Arts University of Aguascalientes, Mexico, 2012), and “Beyond the Hyphen. Approaching a Post Geographic Cuba” (Princeton University, 2014). Notable exhibitions include “Cambio y Fuera”, a collateral event to the 10th Bienal de la Habana (2009), “El extremo de la Bala. Una Década de Arte Cubano,” Pabellón Cuba (2010), “Luz a tu propia química,” Fundación Ludwig (2011), “Friendly Takeover,” E105studio | artlab21, Bonn, DE (2011), “Perspectiva. Contemporary Cuban Art,” Blackball Universe, Oakland, CA (2014), and “Ojalá!” Künstlerforum Bonn, DE (2015).