Elio Rodríguez(Havana, 1966))

At first, one might find the work of Elio Rodríguez shocking or unusual, especially those who have taken the premises of negritude or blackconsciousness too seriously. Or those who apply an introspective approach related to the traumatic psychological experiences that the famous psychoanalyst from Martinique, Frantz Fanon, explored in his writings. In fact there is no painful exploration of his existential condition as a black man in the works of Elio Rodríguez. There is no trauma. No black lament. Neither can we find any thirst for vengeance. No revanchism.

Gone with the Macho, (From The pearls of your Mouth series)

Gone with the Macho is a parody of the famous American film by Victor Fleming, Gone with the Wind (1939). This time, the romantic lead was not played by actor Clark Gable but rather by Elio Rodríguez who was not holding Vivien Leigh in his arms but rather Lisbeth Martínez, his ex-wife. The artist uses his fake company Macho Enterprise to print the poster (or the new film) parodying new joint ventures with foreign capital, which were absent in our local art system then (and now). More than Elio and Lisbeth (or El Macho and Lisbeth), the characters appear to be archetypes or stereotypes that have had a long history within the national imagery, from the comic opera to the black and the mulatta of our times. More than the natural representatives of our society, who could be whites or Asians, the black man has been fabricated (consciously or unconsciously) by the discriminatory Cuban mentality as having sexual power and the mulatta as having sensuality and frivolity, thus turning them into highly valued merchandize for foreign tourism. In this work, the characters appear surrounded by tropical fruit to give the scene an exotic and succulent character. Years later, in his series Remakes, 2005, Elio produced a new version of this image, but this time the mulatta was replaced by a blond woman, probably a tourist, and the fruit was replaced by local products sought-after by foreigners: cigars, old cars and Afro-Cuban religions. Thus, using a simple substitution trick starting with an old American film poster, Elio makes incisive critical comments on different layers of the Cuban reality of those years, in which the racial issue was in the foreground, but was not the only important one.

Year: 1996
Technique: Screen print on paper
Size: 70 x 48.5 cm

Theme: gender identity race