The Cuban Landscape Project
its inception, the Center for Landscape & Artefact has been working in
Havana, a city which at times seems to be both landscape and artefact
simultaneously. The built environment of the city bears witness to the
embattled ideologies of the past six centuries, and the colonial façades of
the Old City speak as much to the identity politics of the twentieth century
as to the morality plays of the fifteenth. Havana eagerly and shamelessly
gratifies the touristic gaze, all the while painting a picture of decadence
that would be perfect if it were not totally devoid of indulgence.
Our work in Havana spans a number of fields. We are concerned with the decay, but are perhaps somewhat more concerned with the efforts to stem it. The preservationist project itself is an index of the global and national approach to Cuba, always inseparable from her Revolution and her bearded El Primo, but even more fused to them when made the subject of the international gaze. One of our original truisms is the observation that the choice of what not to restore is equally revealing, if not more so, as the investigation of actual restoration projects.
Not only are we
fascinated with Havana’s built environment and the relationship that
it has to national and international politics, but are also deeply
interested in the extrapolation of that environment from the physical to
the cognitive plane. The stemma of language, argot and idiom is a useful
tool for the understanding of movement and paralysis, (auto-)censorship
and expression, identity politics and political identity in the
contemporary urban core of the last communist bastion in the West.
Language, in our worldview, functions as both landscape and artefact,
its architecture symbiotically forming a cognitive blueprint of, and
being constituted by, the built environment.
|the necropolis||old havana||cuba's lost art schools||home|