Activismo: Art and Dissidence in Cuba explores how six Cuban artists and activists use their art to transform the world and improve the human condition.
In December 2015, producers-directors Philip Sugden and Carole Elchert, as well as videographers Jason Baker and Alex Goetz, interviewed and filmed Havana-based artists for six days. In July 2016, Cuban art scholar Professor Rachel Weiss was interviewed at the Chicago Art Institute and Cuban artist-photographer Geandy Pavon, Cuban art curator Elvis Fuentes, and “artivist” Tania Bruguera were interviewed in New York. In November 2016, Sugden and Elchert were guests of the Cuban Culture Center and Sotheby's XV Annual New York conference on Cuban art, el Arte en Cuba: Inside & Out. Since then, the couple have interviewed other Cuban art activists, including performance artist Juan-Si Gonzalez.
"In order to have a peaceful transition in Cuba, we need to have art and education."
"Art and life could be one in the same and could help each other. I discovered that through performance."
"I am an artist of dissent….as an artist, my role is to always be against what is wrong, unfair, socially inadequate, completely unjust."
"…part of the nature of an artwork is to be democratic..."
"Artists know very well their limits, what they can and can’t say. You don’t play with Fidel Castro images. And you don’t give any exposure to opposition, to dissident, to people thinking freely against the government.
"I am an artist. I never thought of myself as a dissident or as an activist….I was turned into an activist and a dissident…There’s no controversial artists; power turns artists into controversial figures."
"…art contributes to liberate ourselves from any oppression because art deals with sensibility, freedom, imagination….Art should be free to be powerful."
"…it’s been very important for me… …to understand as an artist what an image is and what it is capable of doing…It can generate emotions. It can create states of opinion….But it won’t tell you exactly the truth."
"…art in Cuba…transforms the meaning of some symbols into something else to criticize the system, to criticize the government…
Support the Project
The cost of the production has been kept to a minimum by the videographers retaining copyright to everything they videotaped in exchange for their time and effort. The copyright of the documentary will be owned by Philip Sugden. Once completed, Toledo’s WGTE PBS TV will meet with the documentarians to discuss possible options to air the presentation and possible national distribution to other PBS stations.
Although a nonprofit endeavor, the project’s completion and utilization are major costs that must be recovered through copyright use, independent film festival awards, live presentations, sales of the DVD, and above all, individual sponsorships.
To complete and promote the film, Activismo, we invite underwriters to support the project with contributions of any amount. For individual donations of $1,000, the underwriter will receive an original 11” x 14” sepia ink drawing. Major contributors of $2,500 will be given their choice of a studio ink drawing. Additional underwriter incentives are listed on the Project Proposal, which is available upon request by sending an email request to SugdenP@bluffton.edu. With Bluffton University as the fiscal agent, any amount is tax deductible and gratefully accepted.