‘El Sexto’ – Cuba Can Change Only If People “Wake Up Inside”
‘El Sexto’: Cuba Can Change Only If People “Wake Up Inside” / 14ymedio
Posted on February 19, 2016
EFE (14ymedio), Ana Mengotti, Miami, 19 February 2016 — Cuban graffiti
El Sexto (The Sixth), who spent ten months in prison for having written
the names of Fidel and Raul on two live pigs that he intended to release
in Havana, told EFE that Cuba will change only when “people wake up inside.”
The week that he opens his first exhibition in the United States,
sponsored by the London’s Pollock Gallery and the Human Rights
Foundation of America, Danilo Maldonado is amazed to be living a
“dream,” but there are also moments when he thinks about the
consequences of his efforts.
In Miami’s Market Gallery, El Sexto, (a nickname that refers “The Cuban
Five,” the group of Cuban agents who served sentences in the United
States for espionage and who are considered heroes by Raul Castro’s
government), will present his artworks created in the Netherlands, Cuba
and the United States, including 40 drawings done in prison.
The title of the exposition is Pork, an animal revered for its meat by
Cubans and one that unwittingly led this graffiti artist to prison.
“Blame George Orwell,” he jokes.
Maldonado, 32, tried to do a piece of performance art in Cuba based on
Animal Farm, Orwell’s satire about Stalinism in which the animals rise
up against the farmer under the leadership of the pigs, who end up
perverting the new rules and imposing their own power.
At Christmas of 2014 he was arrested in Havana before he was able to
release two pigs, painted green and with the names Raul and Fidel
written on their hides; he remained in prison without charges for ten
While behind bars he drew and wrote a kind of diary, when he was not in
isolation, undertook a hunger strike, and was declared a prisoner of
conscience by Amnesty International. He also won the 2015 Vaclav Havel
International Prize for Creative Dissidence, awarded by the Human Rights
As appetizer to his exhibition in Miami on Thursday, 25 February, he
will stage a live evening performance, accompanied by his friend Gorki
Aguila and his band Porno para Ricardo, and a curious film by Andy
Warhol entitled “The Life of Juanita Castro.”
There may also be some pig there, says this mysterious artist, who
believes that “art can do everything.”
For this reason he does not forgive many Cuban artists who, in his view,
have been, and are, accomplices of the Castro regime. “That is the art
of lies,” he says, about those who “are not capable of questioning the
“Much of the blame for this system that has lasted so long is on the
artists,” he says, convinced that they have helped to legitimize Fidel
Castro, leader of the Revolution, and his brother Raul, today president
of Cuba, and they have also helped to deform the minds of Cubans.
But the blame is not entirely on the “hostages,” he says, referring to
Cubans. There are also other governments in the Americas and Europe who
have contributed to perpetuating totalitarianism in Cuba, he asserts.
When El Sexto was able to leave Cuba, thanks to a grant from Justice and
Peace Netherlands, and came to know the world “outside,” he felt he had
been “robbed” his whole life and that “an experiment” had been carried
out on him and on Cubans in general.
However, he does not plan to leave Cuba and entirely forget about it,
like others. “Of course (I will return), I was born there for a reason,”
He has a daughter in Cuba, Renata Maria who is two-and-a-half, and he
told EFE that everything he does “is to let her name rise higher.”
An anonymous hand placed next to the gallery entrance where El Sexto
will have his debut as an exhibitor, two stickers made my him: one is a
portrait of Renata with a chick on her head and the word “despiertica”
(little awake one), and the other a self-portrait with a rooster on his
own head and the word “awake.”
Cubans “waking up within” is, for El Sexto, the only way to change Cuba,
apart from, clearly, “the [Castro] government stepping down,” a
government that “has spent 50 years taking things from the people and
exercising power by force.”
Danilo Maldonado admits that when he was younger he thought “about
trying to escape,” but then he came to understand his role as an artist.
When he was younger than now, painting the walls of Havana made him feel
good, but he looked at art as a hobby, like an affair with a woman. At
age 25, after having done everything, including a job as a computer
teacher, he decided to turn completely to art. “Today I am happily
married,” he says.
Source: ‘El Sexto’: Cuba Can Change Only If People “Wake Up Inside” /
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