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Friday, 5 December 2008

"These days, authentic art is international"

Wilfredo Prieto didn’t travel outside his native Cuba until 2000, when he was a 22-year-old art student in Havana. During an international artists’ workshop on the Caribbean island of Curaçao, he put an ornamental plant in a wheelbarrow and took it on a walking tour of the island, in a performance piece that he called Walk. “That trip was my first experience with the capitalist world, and it allowed me to see the situation in Cuba with different eyes,” he says. At the moment the affable, self-assured Prieto is sitting in the restaurant of a trendy hotel in London, having spent much of the intervening eight years experiencing more of the capitalist world than most Americans see in a lifetime.

-- From a profile of Prieto by Susan Welsh, in W magazine's November 2008 art issue, which features a selection of up-and-coming young artists. The piece concludes:

Ironically, the Cuban government’s restrictions on free speech and the press can be liberating for an artist. “In Cuba people have to be informed through what we call radio bemba--which is like word of mouth,” he says. “And it’s interesting that this way the information is really processed and played with.” He recalls a conversation with a Museum of Modern Art curator who was visiting Cuba. “He said he wanted to find ‘authentic’ Cuban art—he was looking for more vegetation or something,” Prieto says, laughing. “But these days, authentic art is international.”

S/T (crane) (2006), by Wilfredo Prieto

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