Commons (2018)

Interactive installation _ Process art

Collaboration: Antonio Ramos Hernández (Sociologist)

Correction, edition and translation by Lizabel Mónica.

This project is centered on the detailed observation of phenomena that emerge spontaneously in Cuba from everyday social practices. These events are a typical tactic reaction either to precarity or a specific deficiency in the public sector. When there is a need, people build their own networks of productive structures outside official institutions via collaboration. These practices are partially related to socialist ideology. But they can also be easily understood as the strength of human groups once they organize to meet common goals.

The phenomena that I work with on this project are Cuban cases of informal associations that prioritize the collective over the individual. The central focus at this stage of the project is Micro 3, located at Nuevitas, Camagüey. The scarcity during the so-called Special Period forced people to find economic alternatives to survive. Raising pigs at home became at that time one of the most popular practices in urban spaces. It was in this context that the biggest pigsty of Cuba was created, with 345 farmyards and around 700 pigs. People named it Micro 3, to maintain coherence with the others city areas (Micro 1 and Micro 2). Micro three is a geographically located space organized where governing and urbanization practices take place. It has hydraulic, sanitary, and electric installations. It also has a small clinic, a security system, street address, signage, etc. From the beginning, it has an administration elected by popular vote. This government consists of a former director and a supervisory board. The administration and the community around Micro 3 pigsty fallows a rules of procedure document, which works as the formal constitution.


Photo: Williams Cruz



To develop this project, I built a collaboration that links visual arts and social science. The purpose of this partnership was to analyze the phenomena in thick, to be able to, on the one hand, register its dynamics to reveal their successful structures, and on the other side, to counterpoint these arrangements to the new parameters of success established at the national level.

I based my process of collaboration on the search for agents in different theoretical fields which with I could share a common interest. That way the creative process could occur at a negotiated middle point. Once I found my partner, I established the practice of collaboration as horizontal, so our original individual methods could be mixed to share perspectives and arrive at hybrid results. The final result was at the same time an art piece and a social science research thesis. The finished work became a joint authorship where we are both owners of the copyrights over the final work, and thus can use it in our respective fields in the ways we prefer. In this vein, both obtained the symbolical value, and at the same time, we potentiated to the maximum our individual skills to collaborate on the different steps of the work.



Micro III (Pigsty)
Primary Goal: SPACE, to improve living conditions

In the city of Nuevitas, Camagüey, there are two working class neiboorhoods known as Micro I and Micro II. During the time of the city’s industrial eclosion, the state raised two large building areas at the geographical borders of the city to host the workers that operated in the new industries.

But in the ’90s he Special Period arrived, and most of the industries that maintained these localities closed. The economic situation required for the workers to find new alternatives to survive. Then emerged Micro 3 -see description above-, the larger autonomous pigsty in the country.


S-NET (wifi_habana)
Primary goal: CONNECTION, to socialize and generate healthy recreational activities

This network is similar to that of the gamers’ online community. However, in the Cuban context, the gamers’ community rose in an offline media ecology. Due to those circumstances, Cuban gamers built their offline mesh network and created complex infrastructures to overcome disconnection barriers. These networks started as an offline wired system, but today is a hybrid mesh network both with wired and wireless components.

S-NET is nowadays an offline mesh network that operates alongside the island. At a rough estimate, there are users for 2000 different games in which there are at least 2500 players that engage every day. DOTA 2 and shooting video games are the favorites.


Supervivo (Fanzine)
Primary goal: EXPRESSION, to promote values, to seek for public debate while strengthening identity ties

Supervivo is a nonprofit organization that publishes an independent fanzine. Their principal aim is to promote positive values among youth. Supervivo is 12 pages long magazine produced in black & white at 8.5” x 13”. The publication is run by young artists, both professional and amateur, which are less than 30 years old and work from different locations on the island. Essay, fiction, poetry, social chronicle, opinion, posters, nonprofit advertisement, comic, and illustration are among the genres covered by the fanzine. The only rule for works to make their way into the publication, either texts or images, is to promote responsible attitudes and positive values. The fanzine is free, and it is spread through hand-to-hand distribution at universities, public parks, and artistic events.

As they say:

“Our proposition is a diffrent approach to what it means to leave in Cuba: from survival (in Spanish: supervivencia) we go to super-alive. Surviving, of course, because the everyday life presses us just as it does to the 99% of the Cubans. But at the same time, super-living, enjoying what we do: humbling contributing to a better Cuba. We super-live (“Súper-vivimos”) because, although with needs, the shortcomings do not define us.

It is a super life that is super-lived in the survival (in Spanish: supervivencia).”


Hieroscopia Film Festival (MAN, Social cinema)
Primary goal: MEMORY, to create collective values among diffrent social groups

For several years, a singular community film movement has been taking place in the city of Nuevitas, Camagüey. A group of young people spontaneously created an audiovisual movement that today is more intense than ever before, continually generating works that are increasing their aesthetic value.

Films produced at Nuevitas for the Hieroscopia Film Festival have also been multi-awarded in a variety of film festivals inside and outside the island, and are renown at the national level. The Audiovisual Movement of Nuevitas (Movimiento Audiovisual de Nuevitas, MAN) is an unique experience in the Cuban context. The movement has a strong communitary, social and even anthropologic character. MAN is crucial to the creative youth in Nuevitas and helps to build and maintain the collective memory of the city. MAN and the Hieroscopia Film Festival have earned the interest of young people in Nuevitas and has ended up transforming passive consumers -of mostly foreign cinema- into community-oriented filmmakers.