Adrian Melis (b. 1985 Havana, Cuba) makes intimate and sometimes heartbreaking videos about the history and contemporary realities of Cuba as lived inside the minds of its citizens. Through the use of text captions, environmental sounds, humor, and simple scenes, Melis narrates topics that could otherwise become overly sentimental or didactic – including labor, resources, and politics, including the imagined future of Cuba since the change in U.S. policy in 2015.
Glories of a forgotten future (2016) is a collaboration with elderly Cuban women, whom the artist asked to recall their youth through a song, picturing themselves in a club or ballroom from the affluent period in Cuba before the revolution – a time in their lives when they thought their future would have been bright and glorious. In The New Man and my father (2015), the artist conducts a silent interview with his father about recent events that marked a change in the history of Cuba and its new relations with the West. The Making of forty rectangular pieces for a floor construction (2008) workers in a state-run factory imitate the sounds of their usual workday – such as concrete makers, mixing machines, shovels, trucks, wheelbarrows. The video illustrates the fact that, due to a shortage of materials to produce, the workers of a state-run enterprise spend their workday just sitting, waiting for their working time to come to an end.
Image: Adrian Melis, Glories of a forgotten future, 2016. HD video, color, sound; 11 minutes, 30 seconds. Courtesy of the artist and ADN Galeria