What is left when a building decays and crumbles into a ruin as the roof falls in and then the floors? The strong stone walls may remain for a while, with the windows smashed, providing glimpses from the street into the roofless ruin and to the blue skies beyond.
When the walls go, what remains? Often the mosaic tiling embedded in the pavement stays long after the building has gone, cracked and broken, along with manholes that once connected into basements and perhaps some tiling clinging to the interior walls.
Walk around Havana and you will see such remnants of buildings which have gone. Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa (born 1967) uses these architectural remnants to reflect on the city and the links between the physical, social and political environments.
In his work ‘Fin de silencio’ visitors are invited to walk across carpets and digital representations of pavement signs for department stores which have long-since disappeared, while outside they can walk across manhole and utility covers in ‘Sin titulo (Alcanarillas).
In a darkened room, in his ‘Birlibirloque’ series, black and white photographs, along with ghostly perspex models, are the only records of buildings which fell into decay and have now gone.
Moving to another city, Garaicoa takes advertisements painted on the tiles of the Farmacia Juanse, a pharmacy in Madrid, and gives them a twist to reflect moments in recent Spanish history, challenging the potential for social change in ‘Ceramicas Porno-indignadas’. Look at the details carefully….