Wilfredo Prieto – Cuba

Wilfredo Prieto was born in 1978 (Sancti SpíritusCuba). He is linked to conceptual art. He moved to Havana to pursue his art studies at the famed Higher Institute of Fine Arts (ISA), graduating in 2002.

He has a university diploma as a painter but he has not painted anything for the last 10 years. He admires the conceptualist Marcel Duchamp but tries to distance himself from any traditional way of making art and also tries to stay free of any particular historical or cultural, considerations that could avoid his creativity. Habana is certainly a significant point of reference and a very important focus for him.

His medium keeps changing, it depends on the particular idea or the concept he is working on and he never gets attached to any way of working. Most of the time, the missing elements in Prieto’s work are obvious.

In fact, in 2001, he did his most widely known work “Apolítico” with 30 flagpoles stripped of their familiar colours. This show has been shown in Ireland, Italy and France. In 2004, the more than 5,000 books that comprised his Biblioteca Blanca were utterly blank (White Library). This show went to the biennial exhibitions in Singapore and Venice, and will travel next to Austria. For the 2006 Havana Biennial, he contributed a rotting banana peel, a bar of soap and a daub of axle grease, which he placed in a neat little pile on a floor of the exhibition space. He tampers with the ordinary until it becomes unlikely but not entirely impossible. In 2006, he also transformed a Canadian art museum into a dance club, with disco lights, dance-floor, and everything except the music (Mute). In 2007, in a Barcelona gallery he once laid a rug in the middle of the floor, then carefully combed the gallery space for all the little bits of dirt and dust he could find, which he then swept under the rug (Untitled/Red Carpet).

One of his most recent works is called “Walking the dog and eating shit“, which was a number of public exhibitions he did in Lennon Park in Havana.

Prieto recently won the 2008 Cartier Award, which entitles him to a three-month residency in London. He plans to use the time there to install a project he calls Estanque (Pond), which consist in covering the top of 100 oil barrels with a layer of water and serving as a makeshift habitat for a living frog.

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