Events

How Digital Art Reaches Parts of Cuba that Lack Internet Access

Since 2015, the artist Nestor Siré has been curating a selection of contemporary art in El Paquete Semenal, a one-terabyte collection of files transmitted person-to-person throughout Cuba every week.

Still from Julia Weist and Nestor Siré, "Holguín (BABALAWO)" (2016) (courtesy the artists)
Still from Julia Weist and Nestor Siré, “Holguín (BABALAWO)” (2016) (courtesy the artists)

Every week, a one-terabyte collection of media files known as El Paquete Semanal (“The Weekly Package”) makes its way across Cuba via networks of person-to-person file sharing. It’s considered by many to be a workaround for the island’s relative lack of internet access. A typical edition features between 15,000 and 18,000 files including everything from videos of soap operas and sporting events to software, music, magazine articles, and, yes, contemporary art. In 2015, the artist Nestor Siré launched the “!!!Sección A R T E” (or “Art Section”), a special selection of art by Cuban and international artists within El Paquete.

On Thursday at the New Museum, Siré and artist Julia Weist will discuss their new bilingual edition of “!!!Sección A R T E” premiering this week in El Paquete and on Rhizome’s desktop exhibition platform The Download. In addition to highlighting works they curated for the digital collection, they’ll also address some of the advantages and constraints of this particular type of informal, embodied file-sharing. They’ll be joined by The Download curator Paul Soulellis, the Cuban artist Yonlay Cabrera Quindemil, and the writer Lizabel Mónica, who will offer some context for this type of alternative communications systems in Cuba.

When: Thursday, February 1 at 7pm
Where: New Museum (235 Bowery, Lower East Side, Manhattan)

More info from the New Museum.

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