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Adrian Melis Sosa
The New Man and My Father

Shot a few months before the USA and Cuba restored diplomatic relations in 2015, The New Man and My Father looks into the quiet aftermath of one family’s individual experience of the Cuban Revolution (1953-1959). The film brings to the fore a socio-political system made for a country whose successes and failures fell upon the individual men and women who experienced it. In the film, Melis interviews his father about the Cuban Revolution, as well as the more recent re-introduction of capitalism to the island after 60 years of the US-imposed embargo. However, in a simple but important amendment to the traditional interview process, the artist has instructed his father to contemplate his answers in silence.

While Melis confronts the generational conflict between Cuban Revolutionaries and their children, he also highlights the complicated realities of individual experiences versus national historical narratives that offer a universal and evergreen subject matter—at what point does questioning the choices of a past government become questioning the intention and validity of a parent’s efforts within it? To what extent is a citizen making choices for their survival and quality of life also jeopardizing the free choice and future of subsequent generations? And what would discussing that look like—an interrogation, a dialogue? The film could be read as an exercise in unsuccessful translation: the inability for the strife and glory of one generation to be fully understood and communicated to another because they are full up with their own. But it could also be acknowledging instances of silencing and suppression, and the agency to choose to be or not.

Adrian Melis’s work is committed to presenting the range of intensity and nuance of human energy embodied through acts of resistance, resilience, and productivity. From industrial working bodies to voting, social, or political powers in places like Cuba and Europe, the shifting international frameworks of socioeconomic circumstances and other issues affecting the human condition are some of the driving forces behind Melis’s often absurd or ironic methods of making. Through simple gestures and acts of appropriation, Melis challenges generally accepted theories of work, power, and productivity with ideas of remembering, rest, celebration, and other traditionally “non-productive” actions. Melis draws from issues of unemployment, bureaucratic inefficiency, corporate as well as political corruption as he creates mechanisms in which third parties’ experiences and stories are integrated in the production or execution of his work. His works take the form of photography, video and installations. His methodology instills within works ironic and absurd qualities, meanwhile allowing for elements of absence, either formal or symbolic to manifest. Inspired by the lack of motivation and productivity in Cuba, Melis also experiments with creating feasible temporary employment opportunities both at home and in Europe.

This artwork is licensed by KADIST for its programs, and is not part of the KADIST collection.