The Cries of Havana
A video still from Neil Leonard's multimedia installation called "Pan Verdadero (True Bread)", now on view at Stephan Stoyanov Gallery in New York, where it comes paired with works by Leonard's wife, María Magdalena Campos-Pons. (Click on the still to watch a clip from Leonard's video.) Leonard's piece is built around a nice documentary premise: It records the newly-legal street hawkers of Havana, as they announce their goods to all and sundry. Artists' interest in hawkers' cries dates back at least 300 years, when the "Cries of London" became a standard theme for composers to riff on and for printmakers to depict. That means that Leonard's project situates Cuban society as at a point parallel to where England was at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The question is whether that means it has hundreds of years to go before it works through the perils of capitalist culture – if, that is, one can imagine that other countries have come close to doing so. Still, the hawkers do seem to present an entrepreneurial model that's more appealing than most, and way more palatable than the cakes they're selling.
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