Apertura: Photography in Cuba Today - Page 20

call the punctum—shows a social wound. Bright color in the dark image shoots out like an arrow and makes us question aesthetically and emotionally not just what we think we see, but also what we think we are.13 Ultimately, what is experimental about Peña’s series is that it treats color photography as if it were black and white photography, an effect that is achieved by using a limited color palette. By including his own body in an essay on color, he makes the spectator rethink the concept of race as a mere question of color. Not only is race what you, the spectator, make of it, but also you, the spectator, inhabit an imperfect skin, permeable to the feelings of others, that fails to contain you. Fors and Time It was the lack of photographic paper during the early 1990s that made José Manuel Fors (b. 1956) the artist he is today. Unable to make the large photographs he envisioned, Fors began using old photographs, most of them taken by his grandfather, Alberto José Fors, (1885–1965), a scientist (who is considered to have brought modern forestry to Cuba) to create large collages. As his style evolved, Fors began combining photographs with objects found around the house at first and then in clandestine antique stores in Old Havana. His artistic language is made up of the collection and accumulation of recovered objects, including the photographic object, natural objects like tree leaves and seashells (what Fors calls “intervened nature”), and the passing of time. What matters most to Fors is how these objects showcase the wear and tear of time. 14 Figure 3. José Manuel Fors (Cuban b. 1956), The Great Flower, 1999, gelatin-silver print, 72 in., collection of Leonard and Susan Nimoy. A conceptual artist, Fors sees the photographic image not as an end in itself, but as the elementary material support for an exploration of time and form. His work, which alternates between a view of photography as a flat representation and as a three-dimensional object, involves a multiple-step artistic process that often begins with taking photographs of old photographs, postcards, and letters bearing the weight of time. Fors usually combines them with found objects, and creates installations in his own house that he then photographs in order to produce the small photographic objects he uses in his final installations. Fors’ tableaux are gigantic and precise grid-like structures that assume various shapes, like the circular The Great Flower (1999) (figure 3, p. 14) reminiscent