Dannys Montes de Oca Moreda

Where an integrated model is made.

The exhibition Aesthetics x Genetics of the Nadalito artist from Matanzas, with the special participation of the designer Roberto Rodríguez, presented in gallery 23 and 12 of this capital during the last Summer, showed a coherent process of interrelation between different aspects of his creative career. The main issue that of consumption, placed the question of design and its different levels of integration with the arts as a fundamental topic to be developed. It was a proposal articulated from the practical effects of the museographer and / or advertising design where museography and work formed a unit that was not limited to the exercise -also conceptual- the museography is the work / the work is the museographer, but to functions that they link art and design to essential issues of socialization and communication.

Nadal mimicked the aesthetics of commercial moles, department stores and fashion design in a recycling of codes and references both of the public sphere (art and design, art and visual culture), and of individual or personal (spiritual) states and materials). I believe that in this sense it is the project that has gone furthest in establishing equivalences in terms of the commercial and advertising matrix as a model of organization of contemporary art and culture (still and paradoxically ours) as well as in relation the idea of ​​showing consumer aesthetics and mentality as part of a new and extended order of social relations.

This could seem a snobbish posture because of presenting itself as evidence of a corporate reality and apparently beyond our reach, is brought to collation and carried to its greatest consequences by someone who lives and works in the tourist pole of Varadero from where they radiate -to closer contexts- realities and consumption practices that are already part of our everyday life and that are not alien to the capital context. Extrapolating that experience to the Havana gallery of 23 and 12 in the same corner of the commercial complex of the same name, turned the proposal into an act of sociological and aesthetic provocation. The object and the feeling of consumption as a pledge or seduction pattern make advertising an arbitrary mechanism in the sense in which it appears to us as something natural, almost genetic. Nadal tightens and controls these levels of antagonism with coatings (patinas, texts, scratches) that unify photographic surfaces and opposite planes of reality. To the same extent, the gallery, with its neat stained glass windows, expanded its premises and gained public not only by projecting itself visually to the exterior but also because it attracted a spectator who was candidly interested in the sale of shoes advertised there, by the coin with the that you could buy that product, or at best, for the new price of the works of art put on sale ...., a special summer offer and a trap that the public had to overcome from the critical nature and often distanced that contemporary art provokes.

And it is there where Aesthetics x Genetics becomes a starting point and inspiration to this brief review of his work, because the artist makes an adjustment of accounts with himself ("copy of copy of the copy") in which he has recycled different moments and images of his work to superimpose one another and to account for the symbiosis of messages that form the contemporary visual environment, and the integrated model in which our perceptions are inscribed; an apparently creative model, critical, but ultimately passive, disciplined, before the imperatives and recommendations of the advertising domain.

As antecedent of these reflections his series My own history (The reason of the doubt), 2003, and Fusion, 2004, already approached the modern dualism reality / representation from the perspective of the one that amplifies and questions so much superposition and chains of referents. My own story (or Philosophizing with images) addressed the thematic core Casa-Trabajo-País-Sobrevivencia in analogical images whose negatives of 35 mm were grated and written in "coatings" with markers, oils, vegetable inks, etc., with which He incorporated the use of text almost for the first time in Cuban photography. And what a paradox if we remember that the photographs of Gory, Marta María Pérez, René Peña, among others, have dabbled in the text-image relationship, but just as in Nadal the text is an original and integral part of the procedure of the photograph itself . And what would be the importance of a before or after to the effects of communication and the conceptual imprint that you want to transmit? What is the difference? None if it were not because in Nadal the text produced a defragmentation, breakage or tearing of the image. It was also a photographed image or created as an organic part of the photograph itself. From a word a work was born, it became a basic cell in transformation. A text superimposed or limited to an image works as a complement; a text as a representation model of a concept incorporated with incisions, drawings, or spots, is photography as well.

Likewise with Te Ve Play, 2004 Nadal began to isolate more and more the image of its contexts to make it clear that it was not about the representation of reality, but about the representation of a representation concept of this reality, even mediated by other representations. or what would be the same, for technological, media representations, of said reality in televisions, computers, MP3, etc. In this direction I mixed digital and analogue techniques to solve problems that are solved in a much simpler way through computer software, but in order to make obvious the counterpoint of antagonistic realities such as human body-technology integration. But this, was also a way of allusion to the method or resource of digital technology resolved by editing, superimposing or juxtaposing planes, and the insertion of the screen-window in human lives, already converted into extension (replacement) of our bodies and (why not?) of our souls. Nadalito spoke to us of a new cultural man insofar as he unified material, technological and poetic aspects of the new being. It is curious how some minds wander through these realities, while others coexist without hardly realizing such a transposition.


A little less complicated.

However, more recently his project Issues of States (Revolution and Culture, January, 2008) seems to take us back to those initial steps in which photographic purism and formal simplicity were key to the work, while the notion of author returns to appear as unique and unrepeatable. All this comes to ratify Nadal as a photographer not of the real but of conceptual realities.

The intellectual game derives here from the unity between the physical landscape and the emotional landscape, taking for it not the genre in the traditional pictorial (even photographic) way but an interpretation of what we find around us, on the horizon, or circumscribed to our feet. But even that perspective of distance (approach) to the visual field of reference alludes also to a more or less open state of mind, more or less encompassing, more or less present, concentrated or distant in its reflections. To that minimal "landscape" found (minimalist), or mental "landscape" recreated (neo-romantic), Nadalito integrates the text, so many other times the reason for his research. The procedure in this case is a cultural operation that intentionally transcends the way in which its first "coatings" -this is, incidentally, a resource very little or nothing exploited by Cuban photography- questioned the before and after in the photo, artisanal and technological, intellectual and mechanical, and functioned as a balance of forces between the implications of the digital exercise in congruence with the way in which these processes are integrated into a new state and practical exercise of the mind, where photography stops to be revealed reality, before definitively constructed. In State issues, that isolated fragment of reality integrates a concept or idea of ​​the text-image relationship, as a record of the very act of inspiration that precedes creation.

As before in Philosophizing with images, Fusion, or even in Aesthetics x Genetics, we are told here - albeit in a different way - of fears, doubts, imbalances, errors, memories, etc., but not from the complexity of the code but everything on the contrary, as one who returns to pristine states of man in search of some resource of salvation, of some solution.

It is in this direction that his unpublished project Networks of Confidences also points, in the search of a human essentiality, a humanity (and worth the redundancy) that unites us over our differences - individual, material, local, - not to return us what we have in common, even from that false homologation of global realities, but in a consensus that tends to the humility of some men with others, of some realities in front of others, or of the man himself in front of his insecurity and despair.


... And much less elitist.

In the latter case, photography would reveal that kind of enchantment that unites us from the increasingly standardized digital technological image and consequently a new utopian and less elitist practice. And the artist rarely found full acceptance in the photographic guild. It was, first of all, that he had "mistakenly" bet on color. It could be said with absolute confidence that he established -from the not too distant Matanzas- a tradition of color in Cuban photography that relied -with intelligence- on conventions and resources of little value for the contemporary demands of artistic photography. His work La canasta, 1994 was a finalist in the National Photography Salon (1999) of the Fototeca de Cuba. It was an analog sequence made with color film that showed three snapshots of the sun approaching and entering a basketball basket. A work built from the beginning of the snapshot to which, according to the opinion of many, black and white would have given it a more serious and transcendent tone.

A day of Ophelia, 1999, one of the first (and best) color photographic essays, converted eight everyday actions of his aunt Ophelia (sewing, cleaning, washing, ...) and their living space, in study for an aesthetic different from everyday beauty; an aesthetic that made us practically return to studio photography or more conventional photography, in order to legitimize space and the most popular domestic life; while with erotic games or erotic story, 2001 [1], produced the "pictorial" deception of a digitally worked imagen when in reality it was an instantaneous digital record made hidden by a camera of low resolution that captured what he baptized as "office eroticism" alluding to that rituality in which subtle subversion becomes authorized breakdown of the norm.

What for him had been an essential issue, color, for others it was a problem. When we traced those origins of color in Cuban photography, we only found the same in the "illuminated" photographs in the dark room by Gory back in the 80s, in Fors's experiments to turn his images to sepia, in Arturo's photographs Cuenca, or more recently in Yamila Lomba when it altered the development of the slide and printed with the color variants that it produced. But while these artists used color as an element brought to collation (or added) in certain circumstances, for Nadal photography was color, all his work is made from the color film and his technological budgets. Today, with digital art and technology, nobody questions its use, but then the color was not artistic, Cuban galleries viewed its use with suspicion. Only two or three isolated antecedents could be cited in this direction: the submarine photography that had begun to have its fans and professionals in Cuba [2], some prize from the Revolución y Cultura Magazine [3] and the management of the Casa de las Américas with his Photo Essay Prize.

I speak of the year 1987 when the budding artist could see that photography was in addition to that family history of birthdays and weddings, or a means to make money while pleasing his fellow men ..., a technological image that gave him the best way to experience and say things. Also, self-taught studies of technique and composition helped him find a path of expression where, always from color, he goes from the image that reproduced reality to creating his own compositions using the human body and his sexuality as fertile ground. These essays would later be grouped under the title Nude colors, 2001-2002 where the game of representing is an equivalent of the skill and beauty of the body's display in sexuality. In this series, Fantasía 2001, recreated the idea of ​​the voyeaur that tries to discover what there is behind sinuous lines, body suggestions and movements equivalent to the dance of the sexes, and more than suggesting, it created a thematic fissure in the representations of gender and sexuality make photographic reality the male sexual fantasy of witnessing a relationship between two women.

On the other hand, its installation El mirón (Fototeca de Cuba, 2002) placed the viewer in the almost manners perspective of those characters who, under the Tirry de Matanzas Bridge, look up imagining what they can’t see. These series together with others such as Haciendo el amor xy, 2001 [4], made color a mediator of expressive attributes as well as the very conception and the photographic framing. In the latter the models (men and women) were placed on top of the photographic paper in a direct frame - a kind of analog tribute to Man Ray - that seemed to show more the biological or scientific aspect than its sensual nature, although the color is warm and strong I would emphasize the erotic aspect as opposed to the radiographic effect. In the same way, he placed us in an analytical predisposition about what art is and what is not, and about the limits between art and pornography. Both one series and another played with the viewer and the criticism about manipulation, that is, the fact of inserting a message without the viewer knowing that it is consuming it, a very important resource of advertising.

My own story (or The reason of the doubt), 2003, Te Ve Play, 2004, Aesthetics X Genetics, 2007 and Questions of States, 2008, among others already mentioned, are projects that place Nadalito in the tradition of photography and the most experimental Cuban art, with photographs (analogical or digital) that are resized equivalents of our lives, lives that we ourselves produce, build, become their consumers, and often their own slaves.

Havana, January 2008

La Habana, enero del 2008



[1] Awarded with the Grand Prize at the X National Salon of Erotic Art, 2004, from the Fayad Jamís Gallery, and then as the First Prize, Digital Photography, VII International Digital Art Exhibition and Colloquium, Pablo de la Torriente Center, Havana, 2005.
[2] I think of the work of Alberto Díaz Korda as a photographer of the Department of Submarine Research of the Cuban Academy of Science between 1968 and 1980.
[3] Although I have tried to collate and verify this information without major achievements, I have - I believe - the best of the examples at my hand, the back cover of a Revolution and Culture (No. 2, 1990) in which they reproduce the Photography Prize Revolution and Culture awarded to Alfredo Betancourt for his piece El turista.
[4] Prize of the Provincial Council of the Plastic Arts, X Roberto Diago Room, Matanzas, 2001.

Basket, 1994 / Color photograph / 50 x 60 cm each one
Erotic Story, 2001 / Digital Photography
Erotic Story
TV Play, 2004 / Installation / Dimensions variable
Installation TV Play
One day Ophelia, 1999 - 2000 / Color photograph / 50 x 60 cm
One day Ophelia
1999 to 2000
Project : Issues of State. Memory, 2008 / Photography
Project : Issues of State
2008 to 2013
Syllabism. Peligro, 2004 / Cover photo syllabism* / 100 x 150 cm each one
Syllabism. Peligro
Syllabism. Sobreviviendo, 2003 / Cover photo syllabism* / 100 x 150 cm each one
Syllabism. Sobreviviendo
Syllabism. Todos somos iguales, 2003 / Cover photo syllabism* / 100 x 150 cm each one
Syllabism. Todos somos iguales
The Voyeur, 2005 / Installation / Photography, wood / Dimensions variable
The Voyeur