On living, without illusions, the experience of disillusionment

Rachel Weiss on her book To and from Utopia in the New Cuban Art in ROROTOKO.

What happened in Cuba was basically the collapse of a dream. That’s obvious, but nonetheless painful.

Specifically in the arts, the 1980s was a time of incredibly energetic and critical creativity, the product of a generation of young artists committed to the prospect of true—meaning truly independent—expression.

It was a cohort of artists who were committed to the utopian project of revolution, and who considered it a natural part of their role as artists and citizens to participate critically in that process. After 1989 that all fell apart, along with the country’s fundamental sense of purpose. Yet artists continued to produce.

I began work on the book convinced that the production of the 1990s was a cynical betrayal of the enthusiastic commitments of the 80s, but soon came to realize that the chastening experiences of the 90s were actually the most important part of the story.

Writing this book was, for me—as a child of the sixties—a way to come to terms with the failure of utopian ideas about culture and social change. And more than that, it gave me a way to think through the process of living, without illusions, the experience of disillusionment.

Published in: ROROTOKO

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