The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation is delighted to present at The 8th Floor, Queloides: Race and Racism in Cuban Contemporary Art (www.queloides-exhibit.com), an art exhibition based on the persistence of racism and racial discrimination in contemporary Cuba and elsewhere in the world. Despite the social transformations implemented by the Cuban revolutionary government since the early 1960s, racism continues to be a deep wound in Cuban society, one that generates countless social and cultural scars. Racist attitudes, ideas and behaviors have gained strength in Cuban society during the last two decades, during the deep crisis known as "The Special Period," which followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. As the Cuban economy became dollarized and competition for scarce jobs and resources intensified, racial discrimination and racial inequality increased. White Cubans began to use racist arguments to deny blacks' access to the most attractive sectors of the economy (such as tourism), those in which it was possible to earn dollars or other hard currencies.
Queloides is the emphatic protest of a group of visual artists—Pedro Álvarez, Manuel Arenas, Belkis Ayón, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Roberto Diago, Alexis Esquivel, Armando Mariño, René Peña, Marta María Pérez Bravo, Douglas Pérez, Elio Rodriguez, and Meira Marrero & José A. Toirac—against the resurgence of racism in the island. It is the statement of a generation of artists who grew up and was educated in an environment that was, to no small degree, racially-egalitarian and that deteriorated dramatically in the 1990s. Queloides is a long-term cultural project in which numerous intellectuals and artists from Cuba have participated. The exhibit builds on two previous exhibits with the same name that were done in Havana in 1997 and 1999. This edition has been presented at the Centro de Cultura Contemporánea Wifredo Lam (Havana) and at the Mattress Factory museum (Pittsburgh, Pa).