Artworks \ Tumbé du camion

Tumbé du camion

Process art

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


The creative alternatives of the informal economy have become part of the very culture and daily life of Cubans. These processes have been closely linked to survival and are the result of the precarious economic conditions in which Cubans have lived for years, especially after the so-called Special Period.

One of these practices is cigar smuggling, a recurrent activity on the island from the 16th century to the present day. Due to the high prices of this exclusive product, there is an alternative system of buying and selling through the workers of the state-owned tobacco factories, who steal the boxes of tobacco from the factories -with their rings and characteristic labels- and obtain an extra profit. According to Cuba’s customs laws, any passenger can take four boxes of tobacco out of the country for personal use. With this concession and taking into account the international recognition of the product, Cubans usually buy cigars on the island’s black market and then profit from selling them at a lower price than the official price in European stores.

Following this and the current strategy, the artist, using the legal cover, brought to Marseille from Cuba four boxes of cigars of prestigious cigar brands: Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, and Partagás. He intended to create artistic objects using tobacco as a raw material, without losing their use value. These creations fused cigars and their boxes, as well as objects acquired in antique and handmade soap shops in Marseille, such as Le Sérail, Le fer à cheval, Marius Fabre, and Rampal Latour. These brands are now a reference for France and Marseille, as the Havana cigar is for Cuba. They are authentic products manufactured according to a traditional recipe and an aesthetically appealing objects.

The title of the work, Tumbé du camion (Fallen from the truck), is an idiomatic expression in French that alludes to products of dubious origin, included in the practices of an informal economy. With a reference to Marcel Broodthaers, the work exposes the relationship between allegorical processes and the art market.

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