February 4 – March 31
In “Pop Goes the World,” Lisandra Ramirez and Mabel Poblet, two rapidly emerging artists on the cutting edge of Cuban pop explore themes of isolation— both self-induced and imposed. Like many Latin American contemporary artists, Ramirez and Poblet are storytellers, using recognizable characters and icons throughout their multi-media work to provide layered meanings with a non- linear narrative. Both artist’s work is deeply personal without being implicitly autobiographical and both comment on manufactured themes, while their actual access to manufacturing was limited, dictating much of the work’s scale and imbuing it with an indelible human presence.
Amongst various symbolism in Lisandra’s work is a recurring Japanese cat, like an Astro-boy era Pokemon. The distinctly vintage cartoon form, starry eyes gazed longingly upward, recalls a bygone era before nearly five decades of enmity. It also speaks to a theme consistent throughout Lisandra’s larger body of work involving subtilely re-contextualized toys created out of different materials— bronze, acrylic, porcelain, etc. relating to the general crafting and filing of imagery from our childhoods and and how meanings shift as our worlds are continually affected by outside influences.
Mabel Poblet works from a similar nostalgic vein. Her “Abacus” series uses images of real places in her life that were digitally deconstructed, then sculpturally affixed hovering over a fragmented landscape. From this idea of fragmentation, a character emerged with a red afro wig and striped red stockings representative of a feminine variation of Narcissus who sees herself through the lens of a distorted Communist narrative. Her preposterous sense of style is in stark contrast to one who takes themselves seriously enough as to be constantly absorbed with her own appearance— she isolates herself to the point of becoming completely oblivious.
Both Ramirez and Poblet’s reappropriation of the American Pop sensibility within a Latin American tradition results in concepts that are at the same time satirical and personal. Both work within an invented paradigm of imagined history, where human events and social stereotypes are treated with a sort of tongue-in-cheek fluidity (or muddiness). This idea is especially pertinent coming from Cuba, with it’s legacy of abstruse foreign and social relationships, and especially the story of it’s isolation. In respect to the nation’s history, the works in Pop Goes the World examine the complexity of the individual in relation to the individual’s role in society on both a national and global scale, evoking a paradoxical longing for both a world within and a world beyond.