Filmmaker Natasha Del Toro talks about Cuban artists, Cuban art and what makes it unique. Here is an excerpt:
What do you think sets Cuban art apart?
A number of things, really. First, the political situation in Cuba forces artists to come up with subtle ways to critique the system. Because of censorship, they must be very clever in their approach. A curator once joked that skirting government censors in Cuba provided far better training than any top-notch M.F.A. program. The result is highly sophisticated work that is often imbued with veiled political meanings. Second, Cuban artists make exceptional Cuban art because of their education. From the time they are young, Cubans with artistic talent are handpicked and sent to extremely rigorous schools that are fully subsidized by the Cuban government. Only the best make it to graduation. But even those who don’t make it through get a solid — and free — art education along the way, which is probably why you find such good street art in Cuba. Third, although there are great artists throughout Latin America, the travel embargo makes Cuban art scarce and consequently more exotic. This drives up demand — at least for Americans.