High Tension Art
By Viviana Díaz Frías
Since time immemorial, art has served to question human beings and their reality. This premise still remains today and it is used by many artists to convey their opinions on the society they live in.
This is the case for two young Cuban artists, Donis Llago and Yoao Hojas who use a material as commonplace as Royal Cord high tension cabling to reflect on themes of connectivity and disconnection, on the relationships between one being and another.
This cable brand’s name became the title of a project born of ideas and conversations that started in 2014. According to the artists the aim of this series of works is to play with deconceptualizing this material, to totally change its purpose, by cutting it into small strips between 0.5cm and 2cm long. “The primary objective is to compare it to life itself, as a human objective, as a metaphor for life rendered in small stretches of setbacks and segments, with which we create recognizable drawings and more abstract compositions,” says Donis.
For his part Yoao recalls how the pair began to study the cable and its various uses to then take advantage of its visual richness when it is cut, and create works that give rise to different interpretations depending on the perspective they are viewed from, like a kind of optical illusion.
After those initial conversations in 2014, the two artists produced some of the first pieces independently with only the cable as a common element. They showed them at the Fábrica de Arte Cubano, a popular art space in the Cuban capital.
From there they decided to create a show with those pieces called High Tension Maps (Mapas de alta tensión) for the Zona Franca at the twelfth Havana Biennale. That show led to another exhibition shown at the Nina Menocal gallery in Mexico City, entitled Beyond the Malecón (Más allá del malecón - the malecón is the name of Havana’s famous sea wall). The two-person Royal Cord project’s most recent and most developed exhibition is Juego de Roles (Role Play).
“Juego de Roles is more than just our latest show with Royal Cord work, it’s also a complete summary of the whole series. It was a total experiment where on top of the conceptual game with the cables, both Yoao and I had the chance to be totally and freely creative with the series,” says Donis.
Unlike the previous pieces, which were the result of long hours of conversations and exchanges of experiences, this time both artists chose individually what they wanted to do and at the end of the process they selected their most creative pieces.
“Later on in the project we took the decision to make independent work with the cables, with just a common theme and the aesthetic we had had until now, with several meetings for creative feedback, until we purged and selected which work we’d exhibit,” added Donis.
“That’s why in some of the work you can see more use of paint whereas others are completely abstract, without paint, just black and the cable, more figurative,” said Yoao.
He added that “this has allowed us to make richer work. Donis worked with light boxes, paint, photography, making them more realist, while I developed the idea using screens and new media techniques such as 3D video, more abstract. But all of them had the cable as a common element.”
Royal Cord is, simply, the restless enquiry of two young artists channelled through the repurposing of this high tension cable.