“There were few cameras and only out-of-date film,” says Madeleine Plonsker, an art patron whose personal collection of contemporary Cuban photography will mount the walls at Jenkins Johnson Gallery next month. “They had to be resourceful.”
Opening in mid-September, the exhibit will celebrate the recent restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S. through photographs that recall a not-too-distant past: Spanning Cuba’s “Special Period,” the decades of hardship following the withdrawal of financial support from the former Soviet Union in 1989, works range from traditional silver gelatin prints of street scenes to mixed media installations that parody pre-revolution bourgeoisie life. Many of the 24 artists represented will be making their West Coast debut.
Based on Plonsker’s monograph of the same title, “The Light in Cuban Eyes,” the exhibit travels to San Francisco from the Robert Mann Gallery in New York. Both galleries are collaborating with Plonsker to lay a foundation with Cuban artists and the Cuban government to broaden access to the island’s thriving art scene.
Will the face of Cuban photography change with outside influence? How will these works fit into museum and private collections abroad? Look for a blog addressing these very questions on the Jenkins Johnson Gallery site soon. // “The Light in Cuban Eyes,” Sept.10-Oct.31 at Jenkins Johnson Gallery, 464 Sutter St (Union Square), jenkinsjohnsongallery.com