Within the Woman in the Arts Program

An exercise of polygamy

The Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas presented on Friday, April 28ththe performance 'An Exercise of Polygamy' executed by Cuban artist and photographer Cirenaica Moreira. It is a work in progress that Moreira began in 2015and has evolved according to unforeseen circumstances in a post-pandemic world.

Curated by Cirenaica Moreira and R10

April 28th | 2023

Performance art is an art form that orchestrates a symphony of visual and theatrical elements. Unlike traditional art forms such as painting or sculpture, which often revolve around a physical artifact, performance art is an ode to the act itself - its execution is the masterpiece. The performance artist, akin to a maestro, utilizes their body, voice, objects, imagery, light, sound, and even the audience, to weave a narrative or explore an idea.

On this occasion, the audience's participation was not merely an aspect, but a cornerstone. The Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas has always been a bastion for contemplation and discourse. As the curatorial team, we were steadfast in our belief that a performance of this caliber would instigate profound discussions and reflections within the community. This was subsequently substantiated by the fervent debates sparked on social media. Beyond this, however, was the intention to promote active visitor participation, fortifying a sense of community while challenging deeply entrenched norms and conventions within the social ecosystem. It served as an alternative platform to educate the audience about contemporary social issues, demonstrating once again the transformative power of performance art.

In recent years, Cirenaica Moreira has frequently delved into the realm of performance art. Since the 90s, Moreira has focused—through the representation of her own body—on challenging the political discourse expressed as yet another projection of toxic masculinity. She analyzes the female body from the perspectives of sexuality, gender, and race. Much of her work as a photographer transports us to dreamlike or unreal contexts where the subject has evolved at its own pace, untouched by the haste and agitation of 'becoming'. Cirenaica's models simply 'are'.

Her work was typically characterized by the use of black and white, which, in my view, documented her aesthetic experience. In this way, images that do not necessarily take into account the socio-political context to complete their meaning transcend the aesthetic experience and gender discourse to stand silent but firm in the face of the dominant power discourse. Starting from the year 2000, she begins to work with color photography and today—beyond her always extraordinarily original representation of women as a social and discursive entity—her pieces reveal an absolute mastery of the subtlety of chromatic tensions.

Regarding her creations, painter Manuel López Oliva says that Cirenaica is a 'world' of intersecting paths, combined poetics, unexpected revelations, and surprising subjectivity. Indeed, critics agree in describing her photographs as stories made images, where the photographed contributes to telling its own story in its own theatrical staging, where gestures are captured like strokes of paint. According to Mabel Llevat and regarding her Letters from Exile, Moreira, in her dramatic essence, recalls the work of Virgilio Piñera, where everyday nothingness and the infrequent meet in usual and ordinary environments. Rosa Ileana Boudet also says that she 'performs for the camera, changes the places of action, creates characters, or assumes herself as one of them, creates her props, composes her wardrobe, and makes a personal and poetic journey suggesting multiple literary, artistic, and human presences'.


Regarding this performance, Cirenaica herself makes her intentions clear:

'As with almost all my work, "An Exercise in Polygamy, sixty volunteers from the audience to kiss the artist" stems from a sense of exhaustion. I would say that I function first instinctively and then connect the ideas. On the other hand, I usually bring the hyperbolization of this fatigue to the physical scene, the one that unfolds before the viewer; because I am still interested in talking about that place of Contemporary Art that leaves us in the realm of doubt as if we were attending a bluff, a hoax, time and time again. My response to this is to expose the energy expenditure involved in thinking about the piece in question and bringing it to fruition.

When I premiered this performance in May 2015 at the Spanish Embassy in Cuba, as part of the collective exhibition "Strictly Personal" that I curated for a group of female colleagues, this is precisely what I asked of them, even though some were not interested in the idea or had never performed before. I also asked them a couple of questions about the theme that would unite us: love—carnal love, real love, courtly love, romantic passion, or any of those ways in which love can transform us, or us it. How much energy do we put into the act of loving? How much seems to dissolve?

I could speculate about the rest of the motivations that drive "An Exercise in Polygamy...", a performance that is still a work in progress and that hopes to materialize as sixty volunteers become available. Sixty, because the performance belongs to the series: "Sixty minutes, the perpetual moment" where I bring to the exhibition hall a sort of analogy of a whole life, of all the lived moments summarized in one hour. Another of the ideas that I explicitly announce with the title of the performance pertains to the ethical exchange spectator-creator, to that public gaze, whether it admires or condemns, in any case special, but susceptible to join in a unique, discriminatory effect on which it (is) exposed. In this sense, my piece could function as an auto-da-fe.

Likewise, I am concerned about the way we communicate, show ourselves and gather in the era of social networks, so my exercise in polygamy behind a latex barrier could be a timely parallel; by chance, between 2015 and 2023, in a post-pandemic context...'

Where we come from?

KENDALL ART CENTER

The Kendall Art Cultural Center (KACC), dedicated the past six years to the preservation and promotion of contemporary art and artists, and to the exchange of art and ideas throughout Miami and South Florida, as well as abroad. Through an energetic calendar of exhibitions, programs, and its collections, KACC provides an international platform for the work of established and emerging artists, advancing public appreciation and understanding of contemporary art.

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