Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara (born December 2, 1987) is a Cuban performance artist and dissident, known for his public performances that openly criticize the Cuban government and its policies.[1][2] A self-taught artist, Alcántara lives in the El Cerro neighborhood of Havana.[3] Since 2018 Alcántara has been arrested dozens of times[4] for his performances in violation of Decree 349, a Cuban law requiring artists to obtain advance permission for public and private exhibitions and performances.[5][6][7]

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara
Born (1987-12-02) December 2, 1987 (age 36)
Statusmarried since 2018
  • performance artist
  • activist
Years active4
MovementSan Isidro Movement

Protests and arrests edit

In 2017 Alcántara was arrested for "being in illicit possession of construction materials" in relation to his work as a cofounder of the #00 bienal de la Habana, an alternative event to the official Havana Biennial.[8][9]

In April 2019 Alcántara was arrested by the Cuban police during his participation in a satellite event of the Havana Biennial.[6][10]

On August 10, 2019 Alcántara was arrested in Havana during part of his performance Drapeau. In the work, he wore a Cuban flag draped over his shoulders, in defiance of a 2019 law dictating how the flag could be used.[3][11][12]

On March 1, 2020 Alcántara was arrested in Havana on the charges of defiling patriotic symbols and property damage.[13][4] At the time of the arrest, was on the way to join a protest at the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television against the censorship of a two men kissing on television.[14][15]

In November 2020, Alcántara took part in a hunger strike as part of the San Isidro Movement. Alcántara and other protesters were twice detained by police during the protest.[16][17][18]

On December 3, 2020, he was released from prison, but arrested again the same day when he joined another protest. He was released to house arrest the same day.[19][20]

In April 2021, he initiated another hunger strike, gaining widespread attention and global media coverage.[21] In May, State security agents dressed as civilians broke into Alcántara's house and forcibly detained him and the poet Afrika Reina.[22][23] To justify their assault, agents outside the house yelled, "¡Qué viva la revolución! ¡Qué viva Fidel!" The agents also confiscated some of Otero's most recent art work.[23][22] Later that month, in solidarity with Alcantera, a group of activist Cuban artists working under the name 27N asked the director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Havana to remove their works from public exhibition.[22] On May 21, 2021 Amnesty International named Alcantara a prisoner of conscience.[24][25] A few days later a group of prominent international cultural figures, including Junot Díaz, Edwidge Danticat, Julie Mehretu, John Akomfrah, and Carrie Mae Weems, issued a public letter to the Cuban president requesting Alcántara's release.[26]

On May 31, 2021 the San Isidro Movement confirmed that Alcántara had been released from custody, after being detained in a hospital for over four weeks.[26] On July 11, 2021 Luis Manuel was arrested by Cuban authorities on his way to join the majority of Cuban citizens who marched calling for freedom. Since, he has been under custody.[27] In September of 2021, Time named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world on their annual Time 100 list.[28] On May 30 and 31st of 2022, a closed trial was held in the District Court of Marianao in the city of La Habana, Cuba. Although the international press requested access to the trial, the Cuban Government did not reply to requests. As of the present moment, Otero Alcántara is facing up to 7 years in prison and awaits sentencing.[29]

Awards edit

In 2022, Alcántara was one of six recipients of the 2022 Claus Impact Award for his performances that addresses the critical conditions that Cuban citizens are facing.[30] The six other recipients include Ailton Krenak, Alain Gomis, Hassan Darsi, María Medrano, and May al-Ibrashy.

References edit

  1. ^ Fusco, Coco (September 19, 2019). "Cuba's Campaign Against Artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  2. ^ "Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, born December 12, 1987, Cuba. - Archivo Digital de Efímera de América Latina y el Caribe".
  3. ^ a b Santiago, Fabiola (11 March 2020). "Cuban artist jailed for using flag as performance art". Miami Herald. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  4. ^ a b "El proceso al artista Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara juzga la libertad de expresión en Cuba". 9 March 2020.
  5. ^ Allen, Esther (June 15, 2019). "The Art of the Possible at Havana's Bienal". The New York Review of Books.
  6. ^ a b Viveros-Fauné, Christian (19 April 2019). "The 2019 Havana Biennial is a smokescreen for government censorship".
  7. ^ "Imprisonment of Cuban 'art-ivist' sparks charges of censorship". Reuters. 2020-03-10.
  8. ^ Sutton, Benjamin (November 22, 2017). "Alternative Havana Biennial Organizers Detained After Filing a Complaint About Previous Detainment". Hyperallergic.
  9. ^ Marsh, Sarah (May 7, 2018). "Cuban artists launch music festival after government cancels official event". The Independent.
  10. ^ "Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara Arrested Ahead of Havana Biennial". Artforum. April 12, 2019.
  11. ^ "Cuban Artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara Arrested over Performance with Cuban Flag". Artforum. August 13, 2019.
  12. ^ "Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara arrested / ArtReview".
  13. ^ "Opinion | Cuba arrested a performance artist because he's everything the regime can't control". Washington Post. 11 March 2020.
  14. ^ Käufer, Tobias (11 March 2020). "Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara: Verprügelt, verhaftet, vergessen". Berliner Zeitung.
  15. ^ Angeletti, Gabriela (3 March 2020). "Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara arrested on way to a LGBTQ+ censorship protest".
  16. ^ Harris, Gareth (27 November 2020). "Hunger strike against Cuba's human rights abuses left artist in 'critical condition'".
  17. ^ Cubano, Periódico (27 November 2020). "Omara Ruiz Urquiola teme por la vida de Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara". PERIÓDICO CUBANO (in Spanish).
  18. ^ "Movimiento San Isidro pide conocer paradero de huelguistas". (in European Spanish).
  19. ^ Viveros-Fauné, Christian (3 December 2020). "Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara released, but then placed under house arrest as protests in Havana continue".
  20. ^ Torres, Nora Gámez. "After freedom protest and hunger strike, Cuban artist detained by police in Havana". Miami Herald.
  21. ^ Robinson, Circles (2021-04-28). "Cuban Artist Luis Manuel Otero Holds Hunger Strike". Havana Times. Retrieved 2021-04-30.
  22. ^ a b c "Cuban artists ask Museum of Fine Arts to remove their work from display while Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara remains in government custody". 24 May 2021.
  23. ^ a b Jiménez Enoa, Abraham. Why Cuba can't afford to let a Black activist die for demanding basic rights. Washington Post, May 7, 2021.
  24. ^ "Amnesty names Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara a prisoner of conscience". 21 May 2021.
  25. ^ "Amnesty Calls Hospitalized Cuban Dissident 'Prisoner of Conscience'".
  26. ^ a b Dafoe, Taylor (1 June 2021). "Cuban Artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara Has Been Released After a Hunger Strike and Four Weeks in Custody". Artnet News.
  27. ^ Gamez, N (January 9, 2022). "Jailed Cuban artist Otero Alcantara on hunger strike". Miami Herald. Retrieved January 9, 2022.
  28. ^ Santiago, Fabiola (September 30, 2021). "Time Magazine delivers to Cuba's brave freedom fighters what BLM doesn't: Respect". Miami Herald. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  29. ^ "Trial in Cuba against anti government activists neither free nor fair, US says". NBC News. Reuters. Retrieved June 2, 2022.
  30. ^ "2022 Prince Claus Impact Awards recipients - Announcements - e-flux". Retrieved 2023-08-03.