Exhibition \ 17.(SEPT) [By WeistSiré PC]

17.(SEPT) [By WeistSiré PC]

Julia Weist and Nestor Siré

Queens Museum, New York, US [2017]

American artist Julia Weist and Cuban artist Nestor Siré explore creative social strategies surrounding connectivity in Cuba, where a majority of the population has little to no internet access. Their projects capture and contextualizes the most significant of these phenomena, the Paquete Semanal or “Weekly Package,” a one-terabyte digital media collection newly aggregated every week and circulated across the country via in-person file sharing. The distribution of this offline content—largely entertainment material, strictly excluding pornography and politics—has roots in Cuba’s underground systems that date to the 1970s. Since the late 2000s it has developed into a full-blown industry that reaches nearly every Cuban national.

Weist, trained in information science with special interests in systems of knowledge and circulation, and Siré, creator of the monthly Paquete folder !!!Sección ARTE  (!!!A R T Section), with close familial connections to Cuba’s earlier media distribution systems, have mined and married their respective contexts and viewpoints to create a series of works that are both for and about the Paquete industry. Their ambitious collaboration was forged within the often ad-hoc societal structures of Cuba, and the changing legal and logistical restrictions on US-Cuba relations.

Paquete BABALAWO, Holguín, Cuba [2016]

One of the outcomes of Weist and Sire’s partnership is a fifty-two week archive of the Paquete Semanal, a singular collection of the otherwise ephemeral Paquete data. The artists have made media from this archive available in multiple ways: in a fully accessible database; at a Paquete copy station of materials for which the artists have secured the rights to legally distribute in the U.S.; in video compilations and graphic applications.

Weist and Siré present an unprecedented, expansive image of the Paquete Semanal formative conditions and its impact on Cuban society and culture today. The project simultaneously illuminates the forces that shape our own perspectives, as it weaves through U.S. and Cuba’s contrasting political, geographic, economic, technological, and cultural circuits.

Queens Museum, 2017

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