Artworks \ CubaCreativa [System D]

CubaCreativa [System D]

Dos Mares Residency with Visa for Creation, l’Institut Français, France [2016]

As part of the project CubaCreativa [2014]


Creativity is the capacity of human beings to generate new ideas. It tends to flourish in extreme moments or moments of crisis, although not exclusively. When creativity emerges as a response to conditions of emergency or scarcity, it acquires predominance in all areas of cultural, economic, and social organization, as is the case in Cuba. This artistic research project focuses on social creativity, heritage, tradition, popular culture, and the culture of survival. Each presentation of this collaborative and multimedia project varies in both format and media, from the organization of a seminar, an academic publication, or an interactive installation. 

CubaCreativa [System D] focuses on social and economic phenomena that, in some cases, conceal a political claim. It gathers practices in the French context, specifically in Marseille, which are socially tolerated but not accepted. The artist conceived a series of specific actions to focus on key points of the process. 


In the last eight years, I have developed an artistic and research project in different international contexts called CubaCreativa. This project pays special attention to the actions and social phenomena that constitute innovation practices. It is interested in documenting the processes or procedures with which creative solutions are reached, given that these in themselves can be infinitely repeated, readapted, and enhanced to the socio-cultural characteristics of each context and its economic circumstances. In that sense, more than the resulting physical object, it is the process and the singularity of social thought that is the focus of interest. 

CubaCreativa is also interested in showing local practices and phenomena related to the informal economy, alternative networks, and creative individuals or groups that work beyond the artistic field. Taking Cuban reality as a reference, the project explores, documents, and archives the terms and concepts used in each culture to refer to creative practices. In this way, it makes visible how these creative alternatives are the product of a tradition or have emerged from a culture of survival and how art can intervene in these spaces and creative processes.

CubaCreativa has the potential to grow connected to the daily life of the context in which it is developed. As part of his research, Nestor Siré has formed a photographic and videographic archive in constant development, documenting creative practices worldwide. The artist has given this archive the name iA [Informal Archive]. It is online, in wiki format, and makes social creativity and its global connections visible.

System D is an expression used in France that expresses a posture in the face of challenges or crises. It proposes to adapt to the circumstances and improvise, to think quickly about the solution to the problem. The term also points to informal economies and any phenomenon related to the subway, the illegal, and piracy. 

CubaCreativa [System D] focuses on social and economic phenomena that, in some cases, conceal a political claim. It gathers practices in the French context, specifically in Marseille, that are socially tolerated but not accepted, such as the networks of abandoned bicycles in the city, the network for the exchange of useful objects, the informal vendors, and the strategies for the informal distribution of promotional flyers.

The artist conceived a series of specific actions to focus on key points of the process. This procedure helped him to become involved in the social and cultural fabric from a more active stance. For this project, video recording was combined with documentation of the interventions.


Laissez vos objets utiles ici: The Marseille garbage space, more than an endpoint for the useful life of objects, such as furniture or clothes, is a space of mediation for the change of ownership. On a social level, it is not frowned upon for someone to take a piece of furniture or an object as long as it is not in the dumpster. Although the norm is to leave objects that can continue to have a useful life on one side of the dumpster, the people of Marseille do not always comply, which generates a certain level of chaos.

Based on this dynamic, the artist created a space to optimize the exchange from one hand to another. Using the stencil graffiti technique, he created rectangles on the ground that delimited the exchange areas. These rectangles contained a message that read: Laissez vos objets utiles ici (Leave your useful objects here). 

SOS vélo abandonné: In the city of Marseille, bicycle parts can be seen chained to posts and railings. It is a local phenomenon that involves, in equal doses, apathy, and civic unconsciousness: bicycles have some of their parts stolen and their owners abandon what is left of them. Although the bicycles are mutilated and found in public spaces, they remain private property and therefore cannot be removed or reused. 

In collaboration with some locals and communities that were involved in bicycle repair, the artist placed posters on top of the abandoned bikes in strategic areas of the city, calling on the owners to donate the pieces. The posters had a QR code that made it possible to establish a communication channel with the workshops. With this, the artist contributed to the reuse of pieces that would otherwise remain useless in laws and social indifference.  


Dynamiques dans le Vieux-Port (vendeurs): In the Vieux-Port of Marseille, one can find vendors on the fringes of the law who provide services to tourists at times when they are not legally competent. This is the sale of sodas and teas. This practice is carried out by immigrants. Although illegal, it is tolerated during certain periods and prosecuted in others. 

Dynamiques dans le Vieux-Port (tatouages Henna): In the busy Vieux-Port of Marseille, many illegal initiatives can be found at times when they do not compete with legal businesses. Among these is Henna tattooing, a service that targets mostly tourists. This practice is carried out by immigrants. Although illegal, it is tolerated for certain periods. 

Réservation de stationnement: These are improvisations that secure parking spaces. Although such spaces are on the borderline between private and public, it is considered illegal to create barriers. People who engage in this practice use heavy objects, such as chains and padlock adaptations, to mark their parking reservation and prevent its use. 

Marlboro pirates: In several central areas of Marseille, there are improvised points for the sale of Marlboro and other brands of contraband cigars. The high price of cigars in France has led to organized smuggling which, although illegal, has become naturalized and is tolerated by law enforcement agencies.

Repairs with ruban adhésif: In consumer societies, it is often difficult to find space to repair what is broken. Everything incites to discard and replace with something new with the excuse of time and the high prices of repairs. In Marseille, this is not strictly enforced when it comes to cars. Because of the chaotic road traffic, cars receive impacts that affect their bodywork. This leads to a widespread practice in which the users themselves repair their cars with very elementary materials and techniques.

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