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MOA at UBC to Present North American Premiere of 'WITHOUT MASKS: Contemporary Afro-Cuban Art' Exhibition, 5/2-11/2

Related: MOA, The Museum of Anthropology, UBC
MOA at UBC to Present North American Premiere of 'WITHOUT MASKS: Contemporary Afro-Cuban Art' Exhibition, 5/2-11/2

Vancouver, BC -- The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC opens a window into the lives and struggles of Cubans of African descent in Without Masks: Contemporary Afro-Cuban Art, the upcoming exhibition making its North American premiere from May 2 to November 2, 2014. This remarkable exhibition has assembled a diverse group of 31 Cuban contemporary artists devoted to two fascinating themes: on the one hand an insight into contemporary Afro-Cuban cultural and religious traditions and, on the other, an intense dialogue on the complex racial issues affecting the country today.


"MOA is a place of both historic and contemporary world arts and culture; an institution where Vancouver's residents and visitors can develop an understanding and appreciation of the complexities of our global community," says Nuno Porto, Curatorial Liaison for Without Masks at MOA. "Without Masks gives us opportunities to broaden our understanding of issues of global concern, such as racism today. The Afro-Cuban struggle for recognition and social equity in contemporary Cuba resonate with challenges faced by communities all over the world, including here."

Orlando Hernández, formerly of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana, curated Without Masks following his own rigorous criteria. Focusing beyond aesthetic, the exhibit favours originality and the profoundness of the works' sociological, historical, anthropological, religious, ethical and political messages.

"There is a very strong African tradition in Cuba. We inherited many religious practices from Africa - Palo Monte, Santeria, Ifá, Abakuá - and there are a lot of Cubans of direct or mixed African descent," says Curator Orlando Hernández. "In Without Masks we seek to make new and deeper studies of those cultural, aesthetic, symbolic, and religious legacies that we share and take for granted, without forgetting that we have received them from black sub-Saharan Africa."

For Without Masks, Hernández has curated a powerful collection of artworks representing a cross-section of Afro-Cuban artists - from the internationally renowned to street and folk artists. The exhibition features 31 artists showing a total of 85 works (from the 146 which at present comprise the whole collection) spanning a range of media including painting on canvas and wood, watercolour, drawing, printing (xylography, silk-screen, calligraphy), collage, patchwork, installation, soft-sculpture, photography, video-installation and video art.

The exhibition's works are drawn from the von Christierson Collection. Chris and Marina von Christierson, themselves South African, first visited Cuba in 2007 and were drawn to the country and its art. During this visit they met Orlando Hernández and, in collaboration with him, developed a collection of Afro-Cuban art that would show the multiple imprints of Africa in Cuba's artistic culture. The collection was first exhibited at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 2010 during the FIFA World Cup. A major catalogue featuring the collection is available in the MOA Shop. The collection is held by the family's Watch Hill Foundation, a not-for-profit charitable organization.

Without Masks will be exhibited in MOA's Audain Gallery.

To complement the exhibition, MOA has programmed a series of complimentary enriching and immersive experiences, including:

Opening Reception: Friday, May 2, 2014, 7 - 9pm
Everyone is invited to join MOA in celebrating the opening of Without Masks.

Artists Talk: Saturday, May 3, 2014, 1 - 4pm
Vancouver resident Cuban artists Tonel Fernandez and Manuel Piña join Without Masks featured artists Marta María Pérez Bravo and Alexis Esquivel Bermúdez for a conversation on contemporary Afro-Cuban art. Curator Orlando Hernández, the Assistant to the Curator Lucha Maria Pérez Palacio A., and Without Masks featured artists Juan Carlos Alom, Juan Roberto Diago Durruthy, José Angel Vincench Barrera, and members of the collective The Merger (Mario Miguel González (Mayito) and Alain Pino) will also participate in this conversation.

Curator Tour: Sunday, May 4, 2014, 1 - 3pm
Curator Orlando Hernández will lead a tour of the exhibition followed by a discussion with Chris von Christierson about the partnership that led to the establishment of the Collection.

Artists Talk: Tuesday, May 6, 7 - 9pm
Without Masks featured artists Alexis Esquivel Bermúdez, Juan Carlos Alom, Juan Roberto Diago Durruthy, Jose Angel Vincench Barrera, Marta Maria Perez Bravo, and members of the collective The Merger (Mario Miguel González (Mayito) and Alain Pino), will present their different artistic practices. Curator Orlando Hernandez and the Assistant to the Curator Lucha Maria Pérez Palacio A. will also participate in this presentation.

Music @ MOA - Zapato Negro: Sunday, July 13, 2014, 2 - 3pm
Enjoy an afternoon of Afro-Cuban music with Zapato Negro, an ensemble of Vancouver's finest Latin and jazz performers.

Music @ MOA - Rumba Calzada: Sunday, July 27, 2014: 2 - 3pm
JUNO-nominated Rumba Calzada returns to MOA with their special blend of Latin jazz and Afro-Cuban salsa.

Latin American Film Festival @ MOA: September 3 & 4, 2014, 7pm
The Vancouver Latin American Film Festival and MOA are partnering to bring films to MOA that relate to themes raised in Without Masks. Films to be announced in August 2014.

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