By Our Own Efforts

Exhibition at New Art Exchange, Nottingham

17 September – 6 November 2016.

Threshold Studios presents a collaborative installation project with and by the people of Cuba.

How does one convey the impressionistic collage of sights and sounds one experiences when first visiting a culture largely hidden from view for 60 years?  That was the challenge we’d set ourselves with By Our Own Efforts. 

Since 2013 Threshold Studios has been on a journey with British Council, Suited and Booted and IntoFilm to establish 14 community-based media production hubs across Cuba and Venezuela through our Caméra Chica project.

For the first three years we had been working with the first six Cuban centres, spread across the island from Pinar del Rio in the north to Guantanamo in the south, equipping them with the skills they need to make short movies and share their lives and thoughts, unmediated by government or professional media institutions, with UK communities. 

By Our Own Efforts takes its name from a key publication in Cuba that celebrates Cuban ingenuity in repurposing old tech for new uses.  In the presentation of this work we’d made a conscious decision to step back from the artist as author/curator paradigm and instead favoured a technique we borrowed from Eisenstein’s silent cinema of revolutionary Russia. Our inspiration was found in his rejection of the western narrative model of the lone protagonist as hero in favour of portraying the strength and power of social change brought about by the collaborative effort of the crowd. 

By Our Own Efforts took the films, photographs and objects made by six Cuban communities with very different identities and presented them within a multimedia installation without any overt curatorial context; a visual tone poem of their collaborative voices and individual perspectives on Cuba’s past, present and future.