Cuba and »The Godfather«
Back in 1974, you might have watched The Godfather (II), and thought it is impossible to make a sequel that was even better. You might not have been aware of it, but after The Godfather, all gangsters, hooligans, and despots began imitating Mario Puzo’s characters. Even I did. I once had plans to lay my bleeding dog Enzo on my bed, just to scare the hell out of my family. I had no good reason for wanting to kill my dog or lay him in my bed. I was a child, and such an act would naturally have been entirely pointless. I loved Enzo, and my urge simply had to do with a desire to imitate the scene where the gangsters kill that beautiful horse and place its head in the bed next to the owner. I remember the blood, I remember the horror.
I was born in 1982, and therefore didn’t see the film in 1974, but much later. At some point, I realized that my admiration for gangsters and power didn’t stem from The Godfather, but rather, from Cuba.
The Cuban Golden Age
Cuba found itself in a very peculiar state in the 1970s. Communism was reinforced on several levels. Cuba was in the process of creating its own national identity vis-à-vis the world with the aid of its leaders, industries, and its own strain of philosophical reasoning. Due to a feeling of growth and progress, the Cuban people started developing a crazy euphoria, and subsequently, a penchant for utopias. Cubans started making their presence known in the international arenas of sports, culture, and politics. The sense that we were becoming bigger and better became all the more apparent. We thought we could achieve anything. I use the term we, despite the fact that I wasn’t even born in the 1970s, but this attitude courses through my veins nonetheless. We experienced the feeling of being able to conquer the world, and in Cuba we created the most peculiar place ever known to man, a place built on utopias, and I refer to this place, at this time, as The Cuban Golden Age. It is the euphoric escape from reality, where people started to strive for different utopias and dreams to achieve an alternative world in Cuba. Once again, an absurdity in the absurd. The people didn’t support a political experiment, instead they strove toward an ideal, a sentiment, a dream – perhaps even a real dream.
The Theater in the Family
A special place or space that I find truly seductive is the heterotopia. It develops on a parallel trajectory to the utopia, but while utopias include a strain of perfection, no such thing is present in a heterotopia. The term heterotopia means »other places,« literally. Heterotopias are places with special rules that provide them with a certain degree of autonomy. None of what happens there would be understandable in another context. Examples of such places include cemeteries, psychiatric hospitals, the theater, the cinema, the garden. There are two places in this regard that are especially interesting in my opinion: the theater and the family, because certain families can transform into heterotopias (through theater).
In my work, I try to examine the parallel side of the utopia as expressed in my society. A dark side of humanity (dark in the sense of unenlightened, unexamined, or occult), of which the central axis is Cuban society.
Since 1959, the driving force of Cuban society has been its Revolution. That same driving force that split society into two parts: the one that supported the Revolution, and the other one opposing it. All opposition has been punishable by law since the beginning. Its existence has been denied, and its activities undermined, and it has therefore not been allowed to grow stronger. But the most interesting aspect of this struggle is how the people themselves began to embrace the notion that only the one side existed.
Until now, the Cuban people have been trying to create the ultimate utopia: to need only one word, only one idea, only one opinion, only one ideology. How is it possible for nine million people to reach consensus? The fundamental idea that succeeded in transforming the entire nation into a heterotopia was the notion of equality. Something that is impossible to achieve between two people was implemented in the country as an obligation. This is how the country was transformed into a heterotopia, where the family constituted the structure that supported it.
The main experiment was initiated in the homes. Parents taught their children something difficult to explain, something difficult to understand – the Cuban Revolution. Everything that had occurred as a result of the Revolution was described as »good,« no follow-up questions were allowed, and there was never the slightest doubt regarding the system.