Contemporary Art Exhibition on Cuba and Venezuela: “The Veil of Silence” and “Venezuela Resists, Images of a Tragedy”

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation inaugurated two contemporary art exhibitions on Cuba and Venezuela – “The Veil of Silence” and “Venezuela Resists, Images of a Tragedy” – on November 2, 2021, at the Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington D.C.

These two artistic exhibitions use a lens of social critique to expose the tragedy and human rights abuses that occur in Venezuela and Cuba with the purpose of raising awareness about their reality.

The Secretary General of the OAS Luis Almagro attended the reception for the opening of the exhibition where he stated that these artistic expressions are a way of giving voice to those who are being repressed or cannot otherwise exercise their right to free speech: “For Cubans, these images are the voices which have not been heard. Freedom of expression has been a challenge for many in the country; for the journalists and those who face the cruel reality of arbitrary detainment and torture for documenting those who have been critical of the revolution.”

He pointed out that the measures adopted by the Cuban regime forbidding and outlawing private occupations that allow for expressions or opinions contrary to or critical of the government force the artists to request authorization from government officials prior to making any kind of artistic expressions or performances.

The Cuban artist Eliecer Márquez Duany, known artistically as “El Funky,” a member of the San Isidro Movement and winner of a Latin Grammy award, was among the exhibition opening special guests and spoke with the news media about his song “Homeland and Life” (Patria y Vida), which transmits the nostalgia and economic difficulties that many Cubans’ face, including food shortages. This song “has struck a chord with all Cubans and all people that live under the yoke of communism. I feel proud to have contributed my experience and to tell what I have lived in my own flesh in Cuba. This song has been more than a cry of hope, it has been a battle hymn with which many Cubans identify,” said El Funky.

The song “Homeland and Life” (Patria y Vida) was the winner of the Song of the Year at the Latin Grammys. El Funky said this achievement is dedicated to all those who have lived under the oppression of authoritarian regimes in Latin America.

Anamely Ramos, representative of the San Isidro Movement, explained how the images construct the possible causes of death or criminal proceedings which the regime uses to repress its critics and dissidents. “In Cuba, political prisoners are charged for minimal misdemeanors in order to build a criminal history for them. If anything defines Cuba and its system, it is that the rights that we are born with are made into crimes and when we attempt to exercise those rights we are arrested and treated as criminals.”

Ana Olema, a Cuban artist and curator of the “The Veil of Silence” Exhibition said that “this exposition attempts to manage the doubts that surround the myth of Cuba’s communist health system. We believe deeply that art is a powerful tool for change, something that has been demonstrated by recent events in Cuba. Art is a powerful tool.”

The event was also attended by representatives of the office of Senator Marco Rubio, Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar, and Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart.

According to Dr. Carlos Ponce, Senior Fellow and Director of Latin America Programs at VOC, the Venezuelan exhibition seeks to “show the desperation of Venezuela after the 22 years of destruction that the politics of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro brought to the country, the destruction that communism has brought to Venezuela and the desperation of the faces of Venezuelans.” Dr. Ponce added that this exhibition brings together the photographs of the renowned Venezuelan photographer Vasco Szinetar and photographs from the eleven Venezuelan winners of the “Venezuela in Contrast” contest.

The two exhibitions were open to the public until November 15th. VOC thanks the Center for a Free Cuba and Havana Club for their support of the exhibition inauguration reception.

About the exhibition:

The exposition on Cuba titled “The Veil of Silence” is a project that addresses from an artistic perspective the harsh reality of life in Cuba, reflecting on the social decay of a sickly population that is beginning to realize the need for changing its surroundings and the different ways of doing so. The gaze of these artists toward the universe of madness and its repercussions; the role of the public health system in repressing dissent and a reflection on the total deterioration of public health and the public utilities associated with it. All these draw the patron to a people bloodied and exhausted that has begun to shed “the veil of silence”. This exposition was organized along with the Umbrella Art Foundation and is curated by the Cuban artist Ana Olema, and Valia Garzón Díaz.

The artists that were part of the exhibition “The Veil of Silence” included:

  • Damaris Betancourt
  • Celia & Yunior
  • Henry Eric Hernández, Celia & Yunior
  • Ana Olema
  • Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Anyelo Troya

The exposition on Venezuela titled “Venezuela Resists, Images of a Tragedy” fuses two important artistic visions of the deterioration of Venezuela, that of renowned Venezuelan photographer Vasco Szitenar which shows how the artist “descends to the unspeakable borders of this uneasiness” and the new visions of the Venezuelan photographers who participated in the “Venezuela in Contrast” contest who offer us a glimpse of daily life through their lenses.

The winning photographers of the contest “Venezuela in Contrast” are:

  • First place: Lenny Ruiz
  • Second place: Alejandro José Pernía Paredes
  • Third place: Azalia Licón

The photographers that were recipients of honorable mentions were the following:

  • Anonymous
  • Maxwell Briceño
  • Leonardo Díaz:
  • Argenis Bellizzio
  • Adán Zarate
  • Anabella Koesling
  • Ana Cristina Febres
  • Oriana Abello

View the exhibition online here.