Mabel Poblet マベル・ポブレット
WHERE OCEANS MEET
Presented by CHANEL NEXUS HALL
Mabel Poblet is considered one of the rising stars of the Cuban contemporary art scene. As a visual artist, her work is particularly eclectic and uses different techniques such a mixed media, photography, video art, kinetic art, performance art and public art. Her work is in direct relation with her life experience: her identity as a young woman who grew up in Fidel Castro’s Cuba and more generally, her relation to the world.
WHERE OCEANS MEET is an invitation to get acquainted with one of Mabel Poblet’s cherished themes, water, which is also a common denominator between Cuba and Japan and the uniqueness of cultures where islands co-exist with the sea.
Her distinct relationship to the sea has made the element of water a central focus in her work. Most of her series, past or present, use water as a reference. The sea can have many facets, various aspects, different meanings and has the power to convey a multitude of messages. For an islander like the artist, it is the element that keeps her apart from the rest of the world, while at the same time, it is her link to other shores. The sea is a frontier and a bridge, a friend and a nemesis at the same time; a true element of life.
Mabel Poblet makes it her prerogative, as an artist, to not only take the viewers on her journey, opening their minds and hearts to completely new outlooks, but to include them as an integral part of her art.
WHERE OCEANS MEET is there to remind us that we all are like little islands floating in the common sea of mankind.
Mabel Poblet マベル・ポブレット
Special Interview｜Mabel Poblet
The polysemy of the sea through photography
──What made you pursue a career in photography and art?
During my first contact with art and specifically with photography, I approached them as a means, an alternative way to express myself. On many occasions, an image was more effective in conveying what I wanted to say, for it gave me a greater sense of immediacy than the written or spoken word.
From an early age, I had access to my family’s photographic archives, which I reviewed as part of a ritual for understanding myself. These were my first photographic references and material that I used to create my first works. These vintage photos of my grandparents, many taken in the 40s and 50s, and those of my parents became the scenes that helped me form a family and personal history. It is for this reason that in the series Lugar de origen (Place of origin) (2006), I use these archives as a way to address self-referential themes, but also to sketch ideas that could have a universal character and could form part of the history of any Cuban family. It is a series that I very much like because it enabled me to link all the heritage of the past, which somehow defined my present and served to build my future.
──Tell us about the works which will be exhibited in Kyoto.
WHERE OCEANS MEET is a proposal that covers a wide range of the last years of my career. Even though the works that are presented were produced in 2022, these include tipics that I have addressed in different series that I have been working on since previous years such as Patria (Homeland) (2015); Diario de Viaje (Travel Diary) (2016) and more recently Buoyancy (2018) and Mi Otoño (My Autumn) (2019). All these series have continued to develop until the present day through new formal and conceptual pursuits. What in some way connects them is that they all address the bilateral relationship that takes place between individual human experiences and events of a collective social character. In other words, different events can affect our mental and physical state, and, at the same time, our feelings and decisions have an impact on the events of a community.
Another element of great conceptual weight is the sea, which is present in almost all the pieces. For someone born on an island, the sea has a double connotation, for it can be understood as a bridge that unites and separates us. The sea becomes, then, the limit but also the possibility, the dream of another shore. Emigration is a common phenomenon among many populations and cultures throughout history, but for an islander, it has a different connotation. For some, the sea can be a way of escape, a symbol of salvation and hope, but for others it is synonymous with misfortune and sadness.
The sea is also a powerful force, as represented by deities in different cultures: Poseidon, Yemaya, Njord or Ryūjin, to whom many pay offerings in gratitude or ask for protection when crossing the water.
Each image contains a living moment
──What is photography as an expression tool about to you?
For me, photography is like an extension of my thoughts. It is a tool that allows me to externalise and reflect on different situations and sensations. The camera as an object (tool) channels my gaze, thoughts and perceptions by finding a subject or object to be perpetuated and thus making it form part of what we understand as ‘history.’
Each image contains a living moment, which is captured and made still. In turn, this still image comes to life as it is capable of telling stories as time passes or as it is placed in different contexts.
In series such as Desapariencia (Disappearance) (2012), I develop another of how I approach photography. In self-portraiture, the photographer and model are synthesised into one single element . The experience of looking and being looked at simultaneously enriches an artist’s perspective as a creator.
Photography is a reproduction of the infinite, of an instant that will never happen again, of scenes that may be insignificant but give way to other transcendental ones.
──What do you think about today’s society / what do you value in your daily life, if any?
One of the questions I have regarding today’s society is about how new technologies and media abuse can make us perceive ourselves. The type of communication that occurs in an accelerated manner, with less attention to detail, does not lead us to our experiences becoming more and more superficial. Similarly, being at the expense of algorithms that determine the information we consume prompts us to question our identity: who am I, what do I want, what do I like and what do I think . The excessive consumption of information from virtual spaces has made us become saturated with intangible experiences and disconnect ourselves from human bonds by being immersed in a bubble. I am not a detractor of new media, nor of technological advances, as long as they are used coherently and constructively for human and social development. I find it very interesting to use these new tools that provide a means of expression as valid as the most traditional art techniques. In my case, I ventured to create several works in NFT, such as, for example, Sublimación (Sublimation) (2022), which also forms part of this project. In these works, it is the first time that I do not use any material, physical or tangible component. I am grateful for the possibility that life has given me to understand the simplicity of everyday life in a creative and poetic way. Likewise, being in contact with different contexts has allowed me to know, assume and contrast various ways of understanding the world and defining our existence as human beings. I am also grateful for being a Cuban woman, dreamer and earthly, with the ability to use the reality I inhabit, sometimes also adverse, to create a unique universe through art.
──Message for visitors to KYOTOGRAPHIE 2023.
I invite all KYOTOGRAPHIE visitors to connect with this experience, even if it may seem like a foreign and distant reality. However, in the end, we are all connected through the universality of artistic language because of our human nature and because there is also a fragment of the sea in each of us.
Mabel Poblet, born in Cienfuegos, Cuba, in 1986, is considered one of the rising stars of the Cuban contemporary art scene. As a visual artist, her work is particularly eclectic and uses different techniques such a mixed media, photography, video art, kinetic art, performance art as well as public art. Her work is in direct relation with her life experience: her identity as a young woman who grew up in Fidel Castro’s Cuba and more generally, her relation to the world. At 37 years of age, she has already had more than 20 solo exhibitions, she has been included in over 150 collective shows around the world and has participated in major international art fairs. In 2017, she represented Cuba at the Venice Biennial with her installation SCALE OF VALUES from the series Homeland.
Chloé Trivellini クロエ・トリヴェリーニ
Chloé Trivellini is the founder of ISLAND CULTURA. After studying law at the university of Geneva and obtaining a master’s degree in financial law, she first approached contemporary art by collecting Cuban art when moving on the Caribbean island in 2012.
Ever since, she has been committed to spreading interest for contemporary art by arranging private studio viewings; managing, coordinating and curating exhibitions in Cuba and abroad; promoting the presence of artists by organising large social happenings at their studios; bringing schools to participate in workshops, as well as facilitating custom events for groups. Today, ISLAND CULTURA is proud to collaborate with artists of different backgrounds and styles while always in search of new talents, in order to offer art enthusiasts the best possible panorama of today’s contemporary art scene.
The Museum of Kyoto Annex
Sanjo-Takakura, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Subway Karasuma Line or Tozai Line “Karasuma Oike” station. 3 min on foot from Exit 5
EXHIBITION TOUR: Mabel Poblet×Chloé Trivellini “WHERE OCEANS MEET”
The Museum of Kyoto Annex
PANEL DISCUSSION “Scenography on KYOTOGRAPHIE”
Kurochiku Tenshokan 2F
WORKSHOP “Experiencing KYOTOGRAPHIE with the Visually Impaired”
The Museum of Kyoto Annex