Jababacoa

C.A.S.I.T.A. (Cuba, Industrial, Tourist, and Handcrafted Symptomatic Appearances. )

C.A.S.I.T.A. and Luis Gárciga

This project was carried out for the Biennal’s XIII edition of the Havana (Cuba)

The Jababacoa project started with the mounting of a textile manufacturing workshop in the Historical Museum of Guanabacoa (Museo Histórico de Guanabacoa). With modern sewing machines and every necessary material, former workers of the textile workshop, who could be found in Guanabacoa until the 90s, were convened. It was about the creation of a space, but also about the reconstruction of these women’s oral history. It was also an opportunity to share standpoints and questions about production methods and new imaginaries. With documentary material and the ideas that came up during the collaboration, we created an audiovisual installation with videomapping projections that will be exhibited in the Visual Arts Development Center (Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales).

Collectively remembering women’s practices in these former sewing workshops is the starting point from which we unfolded very different paths of analysis and creation, such as the industrial and the handcrafted, and their implications in production models, the local identity and patrimony, the emotional production linked to the working conditions, and the ways to reconcile the private and the working life, especially how women manage to be workers, housekeepers, mothers, daughters, etc. We aim at reviving a collective memory that we want to introduce to the context of a history museum. In order to do that, we transformed one of its rooms into a textile workshop.

The jabas or bags we manufactured are both objects and tales of an oral transmission process of collective memory fragments, that share a gender perspective and that orbit around life experiences in the 90s, when semi-industrial textile workshops began to shut down or to be transformed as a consequence of the fall of the socialist bloc in Eastern Europe. The resulting materials and the documentation of the experience are to be introduced in the History Museum of Guanabacoa, where we also organized a talk with specialists in industrial patrimony and the town’s history

Regarding symbolic elements, we have kept in mind the need to transmit not only the contents of a story of labor and production, but also the emotional footprint that the workshop experience left in its workers, as well as the mark left by the workshop dismantling from an economic and, more importantly, a human perspective. The installation reflects some symbolic elements and highlights the constant change in the scale between the individual and the global, or the local and the universal.

Jababacoa sets out to add Guanabacoa’s laboring past as an industrial production center to its historical and cultural identity, which is frequently linked to the Afro-Cuban religious practices. Through conversations among the participants and the creation of situations, we addressed the concept of labor beyond its monetary side, raising awareness about its implications on identity and emotions, and on the processes of subjetivization and interrelationality. With this identification as a starting point, we work on these issues together with the public to be able to get common reference points for possible futures.