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Mauricio Abad: Swallowing the bait of aBADtv

Mauricio Abad: Swallowing the bait of aBADtv

Highlighting the relationship between entertainment and art, Abad reflects on the power of television and film in our lives. One of Abad’s most significant pieces, aBADtv (2009-2010), is a personal television channel that has the ironic intention of subverting the pre-established state regulations governing media on the island. The Productos para una Vida Feliz [Products for a Happy Life] (2008-2009), on the other hand, ambitiously explores hope and expectations in situations of leisure. The viewer can intervene in all of the videos, such as those titled ‘A Picnic in the Country’ and ‘A Day at the Beach’, through a remote control, changing the course of the story.

Many of Abad’s pieces contain a vein that connects him with cubanidad –all things Cuban –in which the repercussions of national cultural learning clashes with moments of unconsciously authentic aestheticism. Guardados en un Cristal [Kept under Glass] (2006), for example, is a twelve-minute video-performance that tests the collective memory of Cubans: Abad asks passersby in the street to recite some lines of Los Zapaticos de Rosa, the well-known poem by Cuba’s national hero José Martí.

In his video Poliedro Espejo [Polyhedron Mirror] (2008), characters are constantly readying themselves for a meeting in which they exchange roles. In this production, important residues of cinematic influences accumulate in the images with certain bizarre twists. Abad has been influenced by many sources. For this piece, the works of Peter Greenaway, David Lynch, Michel Gondry and the Coen brothers were important inspirations. In others, the visual art of Wolf Vostel, Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman and Matthieu Laurette as well as the honest feedback from other protagonists of his generation, including Jairo Gutiérrez, Rewell Altunaga, Naivy Perez and Lester Alvarez, have played vital roles.

In Abad’s creative journey, a perverse content emerges, which gives an additional value to his productions. For instance, Abad, aware of the vulnerabilities of the public, discourses on the beauty of crying. Moreover, he pushes mass media to its natural environment of show business and then subjects it to bizarre experiments of meaning. Some of his audience leave terrified while others swallow the bait and join the growing number of spectators who are willing to revisit old human dramas of immigration, solitude and memory. How you will leave his exhibit is up to you.

June 2013

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