Collection Spotlight: Alberto Casado, Dicen que en la Talia (What They Say in the Talia)

Artist: Alberto Casado (Cuban, born 1970)
Title: Dicen que en la Talia (What They Say in the Talia)
Date: 1997
Medium: Etching and aquatint and collage
Credit Line: Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University,Gift of Curated Prints, Ltd., 1999.28.58

Standing on and around a teary-eyed portrait of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Argentine, 1928–1967), a motley crew of people run amok, including a person dressed as Uncle Sam and another as a Cuban guerrilla fighter. Red Cuban pesos, American dollars, dog feces, and merchandise litter the portrait. At the center of the work, a character dressed in stereotypical “Indian” attire faces a police officer pointing a gun at him.

The scene is a reference to a 1988 performance by an avant-garde action painting and graffiti group called Arte Calle which featured a large portrait of Che on the floor of an exhibition space. The image was captioned with “¿HECHO HISTORIA O HECHO TIERRA?” (Did I make history or am I exhausted?) ” —the second half of which is referenced in this print by Alberto Casado. The text literally means “to be made of Earth,” but can also be translated to “I’m exhausted,” making the flattened Che a visual pun. The juxtaposition of the socialist revolutionary with the capitalist commercialization of his image reminds the viewer of the United States’ charged colonial history with Cuba.

The below video shows the 1988 Arte Calle performance in Havana related to Alberto Casado’s print.

– Post Contributed by Elizabeth Vazquez, Undergraduate Curatorial Intern 2022-23

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