Cuban proposal for project production


Text by Aneta Stojnić

It is always a bit delicate to write about the art project that is still a work in progress. However, in this particular case it is a rather exciting task as the artistic concept itself already opens the vast space for theoretical reflections and debates on different levels of interpretation.  “Cuban”, the new project by Danilo Prnjat will be realized through a real life action that shall be developed as a project within the art system. Methodologically, this isn’t a new approach for this artist whose work is often characterized by emancipatory practices that explore the possibilities of art to intervene in the real life, rather than just to interpret it.

The “Cuban” project will consist in the following:

In the first act of the project, the artist will help a pour Cuban citizen, unhappy with her/his current life, to immigrate to Serbia. For this person Prnjat will firstly provide a letter of invitation for the embassy (necessary for the Cuban to leave their country for Serbia), then the airplane ticket from Havana to Belgrade, accommodation in Belgrade rented for the following six months and some pocket-money to help her/him around until she/he settles. Secondly, the artist will assist the Cuban citizen to find a job in Belgrade and start an independent new life, leaving her/him the possibility either to stay in Belgrade or to go back to Cuba if she/he decides so. [1]

On the global level the “Cuban” project re-questions the position of a human life regulated by problematic mechanisms of power in the contemporary post-ideological world, with a focal point on the problems of immigration in terms of their economical and political factors. On the local level it questions the current position of Serbia as a post-communist country in transition that is currently confronting various new problems causing great social stratifications. We could argue that the artist is obtaining a somewhat problematic position of power by taking over the care for a certain (human) life, whereas life becomes the object of power (in Foucault’s terms). However, by obtaining this position in the context of bringing the immigrant from Cuba – a socialist country, into Serbia the post-socialist country in the state of primitive capitalism, Prnjat intends to show that in the contemporary post-ideological world mechanisms of repression are the same regardless the systems that employ them.

We could also argue that “playing” with the real person’s life in the purpose of art project can be regarded as ethically problematic act.  However, the fact that all parties are willingly taking part in this performance, as well as the fact that the project provides a (relatively) safe artistic environment, and the initial intention is to positively act in reality, may justify this position.

By performing the “Cuban” project in the system of art (and not for instance as a private arrangement between two people) the artist intends to suggest that the mechanisms of political and economical regulation and control of human life may be confronted by real intervention in alternative fields of human activities.

[1] Upon her/his arrival the Cuban will be given an amount of money that would cover the cost of airplane ticket back to Havana.