"The Sky is Falling: Architectural Ruin and Daily life in Havana: The New Art of Making Ruins" presented by Cecilia Aldarondo, PhD Candidate in CSCL, on Friday, January 27th at 12:00pm in 537 Heller Hall.
This paper explores the widespread ruination of inhabited buildings in contemporary Cuba, as depicted in the documentary Habana: arte nuevo de hacer ruinas (Havana: The New Art of Making Ruins, 2006). The architectural precarity of many of Cuba's buildings is extreme: at best, the plaster falls from the ceiling and the plumbing is shot, and at worst, the entire building is susceptible to collapse at any moment. At the same time, renewal juxtaposes ruination in Havana. Since the Cuban government's turn to free-market policies in the 1990s,the state agency Habaguanex has invested millions of dollars in foreign capital to restore 'historically significant' buildings across Habana Vieja (Old Havana) for the growing tourist industry. In its attachment to a picturesque ruin aesthetic, I argue that Habana: artenuevo de hacer ruinas disenfranchises its human subjects in precisely the ways it claims that the Cuban government has done, and ultimately facilitates the viewer's voyeuristic experience of ruin-tourism.