Thursday, 30 March 2023 14:34

Interview with Gertrudis Rivalta (2022)

Interview with Gertrudis Rivalta (2022) HIDVL
As a capstone to an event series celebrating visual artist Gertrudis Rivalta’s show at the Thomas Nickles Gallery and her residency at the Hemispheric Institute, scholar Jacqueline Loss interviews Rivalta in a sprawling conversation about her life and work. They touch on topics such as: Rivalta’s family and childhood in Santa Clara; representations of Blackness in her work and in Cuban culture more broadly; her relationships and missed connections with other figures in the art world, such as Kevin Power, Chris Ofili, Yinka Shonibare, and Cindy Sherman; the historicist use of mass media in her art; her use of materials such as varnish and sequins; the relationship between “cure” and “curation”; and various series of Rivalta’s, such as her “little theater” (“teatrillo”) dioramas and her reimaginings of Walker Evans photographs. They also discuss works of hers such as “Quinceañera con Kremlin”; “Mulata Tropical”; and “Mami llévame pa San Lázaro”. In one particularly emotional moment, Rivalta describes the reaction to her exhibition “Fantasmas de azúcar” (“Phantoms of Sugar”) of a Holocaust survivor, who compared the Cuban sugar plantations shown in her work to concentration camps.


Gertrudis Rivalta Oliva is a multi-disciplinary artist whose trajectory includes drawing, sculpture, painting, photography, video, and performance. She has exhibited her work in some of the most important Cuban galleries and museums, such as the Centro Wifredo Lam, the Fototeca of Cuba, the 23rd and 12th Gallery, the Cuban National Museum of Fine Arts, the Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales, as well as in international spaces such as the Art Museum of Ponce (Ponce, Puerto Rico), the Cultural Center (Manila, The Philippines), the Iber-American Museum of Contemporary Art (Badajoz, Spain), Track 16 Gallery (LA, California), Gallery Adhoc (Vigo, Spain), and Espace Croix-Baragnon (Toulouse, France). Among her most acclaimed solo shows is Evans or not Evans (1998, University of Alicante) that revisited the work of the North American photographer Walker Evans in Cuba. Her work formed part of the 1997 group show Queloides, the first-ever exhibition in Cuba focusing on race and the place that black people occupy in Cuban society. Her work is held in collections in Cuba, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Jacqueline Loss, professor of Latin American and Caribbean Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Connecticut, is the author of Dreaming in Russian. The Cuban Soviet Imaginary (2013) and Cosmopolitanisms and Latin America: Against the Destiny of Place (2005) and co-editor of Caviar with Rum: Cuba-USSR and the Post-Soviet Experience (with José Manuel Prieto, 2012) and New Short Fiction from Cuba (with Esther Whitfield, 2007).


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Additional Info

  • Date: April 1, 2022
  • Location: (Hemi Office) New York, New York
  • Interviewee: Gertrudis Rivalta
  • Interviewer: Marcial Godoy-Anativia
  • Duration: 1:32:25
  • Language: Spanish