Trabajo Volantario III, IV, VI [Voluntary Work]
Since 1997, Patricia Clark has made six trips to Cuba to record a culture that moves among artifacts of the past and the insistent (if unpredictable) changes of the present day. She travels not as a casual tourist but rather as a colleague with a community of Cuban artists and friends.
These filmic strips of video stills are closely (but not exclusively) related to her most recent video Los Trabajadores [Workers], 2007, which similarly contains recurring images of a man traveling on a bike; street sweeping; and the burning of sugar cane fields. For Clark, these are archetypes of labor in Cuba: slow, routine, monotonous and often trapped in another time. They are documentary in intent, yet impressionistic in effect.
Such traditional industry reflects Ernesto Che Guevara’s revolutionary ideal of trabajo volantario [voluntary work], the great socialist experiment wherein one’s work contributed to the greater benefit of all, rather than to a boss. Even today, Clark finds remnants of this broken experiment, amid a labor force that is abruptly being retrained as sugar cane factories close and as the economy shifts to meet the demands of tourism. Today,
labor is voluntary and involuntary, transitioning in slow motion toward a future beyond Fidel Castro’s era.
Please include the following identification when using this image online or in print.