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Carlos Garaicoa at Parasol Unit Foundation For Contemporary Art

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Showing in London for the first time in a public institution, Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa reflects on 'the city' as a physical infrastructure, social network and political space. This exhibition comprises large-scale installations, sculptures, video and photography, all essential components of his work examining the urban environment. Born 1967 in Havana, Cuba, Carlos Garaicoa trained in thermodynamics before attending the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana from 1989 to 1994. Raised in a Communist regime and culture infused with ideologies, including the role of artist in society, Garaicoa's first reaction was to use a camera to capture, re-imagine and to symbolically rebuild the crumbling modernist utopias of his home town. Displayed in the ground-floor gallery, Fin de silencio (End of Silence), 2010, is a provocative work that combines tapestry with video installation. Garaicoa appropriates the old pavement signs from outside former department stores in Havana, transforms them into digital photographic images and weaves them into carpets on which viewers are invited to walk. This work provokes a critical response to the reality of present-day Cuba by revealing the dichotomy between these once magnificent terrazzo floors and their fall into neglect as relics of consumerism. Off the ground-floor gallery, an installation of several black-and-white photographic diptychs present some of the dilapidated and demolished buildings of Havana. Each of them relates to an architectural model made in crystal by the artist and displayed on a custom-made pedestal. Significant reminders of the past, these crystal models reveal a ghostly presence of the missing buildings. On the first floor, eight large diptychs of Ceramicas Porno-indignadas (Porn-Outraged Ceramics), 2012-2014, are mounted on the gallery walls. In each diptych, one part is a photograph of one of the original early twentieth-century advertisements that are painted on tiles on the exterior of the Farmacia Juanse, a pharmacy in central Madrid. The other is a re-creation of the ceramic-tile piece with the artist's own commentary and interpretation of the images. Playing with the inversion of the original and the copy, Garaicoa fabricates the copy as a physical object with references to specific moments and incidents in recent Spanish political history. By manipulating the context of each image, Garaicoa presents a new understanding of the city, provoking and challenging the potential for social change.

Venue Details & Map

Parasol Unit

14 Wharf Road
N1 7RW
+44 (0)20 7490 7373

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