Cuban Art Factory: Making dreams come true

F.A.C. opened its doors on Thursday, February 13 with an acoustic welcome by its leader X Alfonso, next to the fashion area that includes, among its main attractions, the presence of Celia Ladón, stage designer for El Público Theater. The house of all Cuban artists, as it is also called by its founder, is found in 26th street between 11 and 13, Vedado. It is opened from Thursday to Sunday, from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., with an entrance fee of 50 Cuban pesos.

Each segment of the institution, which used to be an oil factory, reveals today a daring and innovative design that transmits the feelings of the most contemporary culture and art made in Cuba. It does so without many resources, without the need to resort to high level materials and tools, but taking advantage of what has been thrown away, broken and forgotten, to transform it into a true work of art.

The building, handed over by the Cuban Music Institute to the Cuban Art Factory project, is conceived in four aisles. The first one includes visual arts, graphic design, fashion, architecture and small format music; the second is dedicated to photography and video-art. The third includes dance, movies, theater, classical music and digital library. Finally, the fourth one is completely dedicated to music concerts.

A group of 33 artists are part of the visual arts F.A.C. exhibition. This is a mixture that includes the best known artists inside and outside the country, with the most novel and daring that is coming out from the prism of new creators.

Different exhibitions each month make up this in crescendo project which will be related to the San Alejandro Visual Arts Academy in order to hold exchanges with its students and to make public the most recent aspects of their artistic worries. The exhibitions are accompanied by workshops and conferences with the different creators that exhibit their work in F.A.C., on the tendencies and ways in the field of national and international contemporary visual arts.

One of the main dishes of this extensive socio-cultural proposal is music. It is not a coincidence that it has three aisles where it may be performed: a small format one, another one exclusive for classical music and the so called blue aisle, designed for Cuban bands, with acoustic and lights that are in accordance to the characteristics of these bands.

The organizers promise high quality music. And since you have to fulfill what you promise, this space will be opened by the troubadour Silvio Rodríguez on February 14 at 7:00 p.m. with a concert on the courtyard of the institution. He will be followed by David Blanco, on Friday February 21, William Vivanco on February 22, Sexto Sentido on February 28 and Harold López-Nussa on March 1.

F.A.C. in coordination with the cultural institutions from the country will join the other festivals and artistic events that take place in our country, echoing their steps. In this way, it will celebrate the Peace and Love Festival from March 5 to 7, which will include the participation of bands from Sweden and Norway. This international artistic event will be nurtured by a big concert at the metropolitan park, workshops with the guest musicians and a Scandinavian movie exhibition.

The center is also preparing the Johann Sebastian Bach Festival of classical music for the month of September. It is collaborating with the EGREM, Bis Music and Colibrí Music Recording Labels to move its musical productions to F.A.C. and sell them there at cheap prices in Cuban currency.

There will also be enabled a local Wi-Fi network for the public visiting the F.A.C. pages and the webs of Cuban artists. In this digital field there also stands out the library that offers free service from 12:00 in the afternoon until 6:00 p.m. It offers its visitors a wide data base with artistic and cultural publications that are hard to get in our country.

The movie section will be focused on the creation of synergy between the public and the multi-disciplinary events that take place inside the cultural center. In the search for a wide spectrum of audiences, the audio-visual screening room opens its range to all sorts of national and international movie proposals, including fiction movies, documentaries, short movies and animated movies.

Materials from the different editions of the Muestra de Jóvenes Realizadores (Young Producers Exhibitions) will be screened in collaboration with the organizers of the event. Workshops will be undertaken on movie appreciation and on different elements to the interior of movies and audio-visual materials. Some of them will be more specialized and others have been conceived for the community, during the first week of April.

Honoring the duty of being true to their own name, the people responsible for the movie section of the Cuban Art Fabric also hope to produce short movies and documentaries, "because we also aim to generate art within ourselves."

Yet another of the most attractive and novel initiatives that we were able to appreciate during our brief tour around F.A.C. was the Photo Gallery, made up by the Laberinto (Labyrinth) Exhibition. It aims to promote the most contemporary aspects of photo art with an avant-garde vision, through the work with a group of artists associated to the project. Images that shock us due to their extreme realism, faces that tell us an entire life in their eyes, playing with ancient very well-known icons as well as with others that are more modern that belong to our context; all together they make up an audacious photo discourse, which is also rebellious, satiric and reflexive. It uses the most diverse socio-cultural references in order to give birth to a plurality of readings.

On the other hand, the space dedicated to fashion puts together experimentation, talent and creativity to present the public with the most contemporary aspects of wardrobe design, accompanied by other artistic expressions such as music and cinema.

Architecture and design follow that same confluence dynamics and they rescue the work of the younger creators to present the newest aspects of these expressions in Cuba. This initiative is joined by the universities that collaborate with the Environment and Recycling workshops with the community.

Each artistic expression will be responsible for the events of an entire week, which will include a festival dedicated to the expression. In the case of the movies, an event is already being prepared in tribute to the unforgettable producer Humberto Solás.

The exchange with the public also includes an interview schedule, where the public might ask questions and present their worries to a guest artist.

In order to pay tribute to the glories of Cuban culture that have left a mark in the artistic and literary stage, a street with plaques will be inaugurated. X already advanced some names, such as the musician Benny Moré and the avant-garde painter René Portocarrero.

Many ideas are still being processed by X Alfonso and the group of professionals and experts that accompany him in the different areas. There is community work, workshops for children and young people, among which stands out the recovery of the Plan de la Calle (Street Plan) on Sundays from 10:00 am to 12:00 in the afternoon. The dance project with the dance Pepe Hevia, book presentations and the staging of theater plays are just some of the coming offers.

This ambitious multi-cultural project, which was born from a local intention, but which extends to all of Cuba and the rest of the world, aims to create future venues in the center and eastern part of the country. This is at least what its creator dream of, because despite our times, they have demonstrated being those who bet upon making utopias come true.

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