More than twenty years devoted to the study of the Caribbean region have given outstanding Cuban professor and researcher Yolanda Wood an impressive wisdom about the cultural and artistic evolution of this geographic region.
More than twenty years devoted to the study of the Caribbean region have given outstanding Cuban professor and researcher Yolanda Wood an impressive wisdom about the cultural and artistic evolution of this geographic region. Her latest book, Islas del Caribe. Naturaleza-arte y sociedad (Caribbean islands. Nature, art and society) confirms it.
This detailed study, considered by many specialists as a book of great importance, unprecedented on the historiography of art in this territory – as much in Cuba as in the rest of the area - constitutes a journey of insular Caribbean art from its origins up to the present.
As part of the activities making up the program of the Eleventh Havana Biennial, this book was launched to an interested public. According to the author, the book “includes more than 60 works by artists of the region,” while at the same time shedding an enormous light on the peculiarities defining the Caribbean region as a cultural space, and where history, society and environment are joined together.
According to Dr. José Antonio Baujín, Dean of the School of Arts and Letters of the University of Havana and editor of the book, “the Caribbean is perhaps one of the territories in the world around which hovers the greatest number of distorted stereotypes and images. Art in the Caribbean, as Dr. Yolanda Wood demonstrates, has become a space of resistance. […] I would not hesitate to say that this book constitutes a landmark in studies of Caribbean history. This harmonizes art on all our islands, with their diversity and differences. So, it is a way to know ourselves better, to introduce ourselves to the world with the face that we ourselves identify.”
During the gathering, Doctor Yolanda Wood thanked all the artists brought together in her book for accepting to answer her questions and facilitate the copyrights of their works, which are reflected in Islas del Caribe. Naturaleza-arte y sociedad. She also said:
“I intended to make a study of the history of art of this region, a history of art that would not be like the one I had learned about art in Europe or other parts of the world. It had to be a history of art on the horizon, an art that was emerging from the peculiarities of the countries in which we live. That is what I have been doing systematically for 25 years, in my courses at the university, and not only in Cuba, but also in other countries.”
Likewise, Yolanda Wood accepted to offer exclusive declarations to this reporter, which I am pleased to share with Cubanow readers.
Do you consider this book as the most outstanding work in your vast history as a researcher?
I still have great desires to do a lot more. I think that perhaps I’ve already done that outstanding work or it is coming. I believe that what is important is to follow this path of study, of investigation and to be able to contribute documentation to future art historians, where the value of artistic production in the region is placed. It is a region that is so rich but, on many occasions, also seen through a prism full of stereotypes and glances that distort the wealth and diversity we have. So, I will continue.
How many countries did you visit or how long did it take you to collect the necessary information to write this book?
I didn\'t travel to do it but rather the trips were useful to me for writing the book. It has been a very extensive journey of study, during which I have combined information and have carried out systematic work with the artists and painters of the region. That’s why it is a book that accumulates the knowledge of 20 years, a book that perhaps was written in a few months but it is nothing else but the result of work over many years.
Why that passion for the Caribbean?
In the first place, to explain to ourselves that we belong to this region. Sometimes we are neither very aware that we belong to it nor that it is a cultural - essentially cultural - belonging. How the threads of that relation are put together to connect territories, thoughts, culture, always attracted me a lot. Afterwards, when I finished my university studies, I realized that the word Caribbean had hardly been mentioned during all my studies, and I thought it was also essential for an art historian to locate a point of propinquity in the artistic aspect of these neighboring islands that form part of a common archipelago.
Translated by Roberto Espí Valero
Revised by Susana Hurlich