By RIALTA STAFF
September 27, 2022
Cuban painter, draftsman and installation artist Ernesto Benitez (Havana, 1971) exhibits in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, his most recent work, gathered under the title Reset Work. The show, inaugurated on Sept. 15 as part of the Nit de l’Art 2022 festival, will be on view through mid-November at the Mallorca Progress Society.
The Nit de l’Art 2022 in Palma was organized by the Art Palma Contemporari gallery association. This year the event reached its 26th edition and involved eleven galleries “with the aim of boosting the cultural life of the city and bringing citizens closer to new languages and artists,” according to the curatorial collective’s website.
In a conversation with Rialta Noticias, Ernesto Benitez, who has been living between Palma de Mallorca and Havana for more than 12 years, said that Reset Work intends to “recompose, reestablish, readjust” his artistic practice in order to reflect “on the empirical need to readjust a praxis to restructure its configuration and redefine the meaning of its discourse”.
Benítez belongs to a generation that began its creative path in the 1980s. He was a member of the Arte Calle group, one of the most subversive artistic projects in Havana at the end of the 20th century. In the Palma exhibition, the Cuban artist starts with two two-dimensional series and an installation conceived for a specific space. Among the materials he uses are fennel, aniseed, ashes of philosophical texts, aesthetic books reduced to cellulose pulp, shredded personal documents, cotton, red wine, clay and a Christ without a cross.
The two series, in a way, insist on autobiography as a form of creative subjectivation. On the one hand, Extremaución “delves into the traps of binary thinking expressed in an excluding dichotomous key and in the paranoid aversion of contemporary art for representation”; on the other hand, Sin suturas proposes, from self-referentiality, “a way of thinking the void”, a way of emptying “the mind of thoughts”.
Regarding the installation Reset Work Intelligent Design-I, Benitez warns: “From a deeply contestatory discourse, it questions the fundamental pillars of the civilizing mode of Western Europe, a culture that, according to Tom Holland, “is suspicious of religion”, but has its deep roots in a Christianity that still basks in its evident medieval character”.
He also argues that, with this signifier, “restart,” which can also be associated with the exhibition, does not necessarily allude to a “clean slate” or “a hypothetical initial state.” “Reset work,” Benitez stresses, “as an exhibition project, in its broadest sense proposes, in the first instance, a stop along the way to reflect on the process of creation, not as a mere aesthetic search, but as an ethical commitment.”
In an interview offered to Artcrónica, Ernesto Benítez has assured that his work “starts from reflections and explorations around: globalization and biased identity, fragmented memory and kidnapped spirituality, as evident dystopian features of this liquid era of the post-individual”.
Consistently, the artist now declares that, “in the coordinates of a polarized and radicalized Europe”, Reset Work “reflects on the transformations inherent to the digitalization of culture and the change in the formats and channels of communication to address the evident changes and traumas that hyper-informed culture produces in human subjectivity”.
Published on the Culture and Society Web Platform Rialta Magazine