January 10, 2019
Stamps student Maite Iribarren exhibited El Encanto, an interactive installation, at Art Basel during Miami Art Week.
El Encanto is an interactive installation that invites dialog between the Miami Cuban exile community and their descendants. It indulges this viewer in both personal and inherited tender nostalgia for a pre-revolutionary Cuba while confronting them with the complexity of this nostalgia. The interactive installation presents hypothetical relics of El Encanto, the luxury department store in Havana that was bombed in a symbolic act of terrorism early on in the Cuban Revolution. This includes a replica of the columns from outside the store turned into rubble, a replica of a display case from the store filled with Cuban candies made in Miami, and Maite’s mother’s quinceñera dresses that where made by one of the exiled designers who used to sell his work in El Encanto. Inside the hollow of the rubble a hidden speaker plays nostalgic Cuban exile musical staples. In the original installation for the Miami Art Week Raw Exhibit, these relics of El Encanto where transposed to the abandoned Burdines building in downtown Miami, as where the exiled Cubans who once shopped at El Encanto. The abandoned Burdines brought to mind a possible inevitability of collapse for the Cuban bourgeoisie who lived a lavish lifestyle in the complicated economy of 1950s Cuba. It allowed the viewer to stop and listen to the sentimental music and eat the sentimental candies until the display case emptied and there was no more candy for anyone, just the rubble of a Cuban dream in an abandoned building in Miami.