Eduardo Ponjuán (1956)
Cuba 20 centavos coins
168 x 2.4 cm
National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana
“A tower of the height of José Martí, National Hero of Cuba, constructed from twenty centavo coins. Like a kind of orisha or spirit (osun), it cannot avoid the magic of whom it represents: a delicate staff, beautiful in tis precariousness and simplicity, humble as its bas-reliefs and edges worn by use. Monumento/Monument returns to the ‘radiant poverty’ that Lezama Lima claimed was a fundamental concept of the founding fathers of Cuba.
Ponjuán reconstructs the myth of José Martí, and cannot avoid his debt to Juan Francisco Elso (Nuestra América/Our América*). He starts where the latter left off: both share a pedestrian, common materiality, but in Monument this is as anomalous and ambiguous as currency. It is an analogy of the currency and its value in the socio-economic history of the country. Economic crisis, and consequently the devaluation of the currency and the history of a nation and its symbols.
In this fusion between spirituality and ignoble material, Monument achieves a perfect balance: speaking of the obvious from the evident”. (1)
*It probably should said For América, a beautiful sculpture by Elso representing Marti.
- Fragments of the book Ponjuán. 45rpm. Artecubano Ediciones, 2016. P. 91.
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