"I Love Cuba, but It Hurts"

Pop-up exhibition and discussion

Date: March 30, 2023. 18.00- 21.00

Location: Práter 63 in Budapest and Artista X Artista in Havana initiated a residency and exchange programme for artists in Hungary and Cuba for the years 2020–2021. Three Hungarian and three Cuban artists were selected through an open call; from Hungary, Marko Rodics (2020) and Lilla Szász (2023) spent their residencies in Havana. Because of the pandemic, two Cuban artists, Eileen F. Almarales Noy and Requer, could come to Budapest in 2022. Dóra Hegyi, director of, visited Cuba in May and July 2019 with a travel grant, where she met members of the opposition art community, who initiated a counter-biennial (00 Biennial), fought against the recent censorship laws, and experienced police surveillance and harassment: by now, most of the artists and curators she met at that time have left the country or are in prison. Hegyi went on to establish a connection with Artist X Artista, a residency and programme venue founded by Cuban artist Carlos Garacoia in Madrid with the aim of supporting the Cuban art scene.

Marko Rodics spent six weeks in Havana in January and February 2020. “My plan was to follow the path of the Unknown Hungarian Artist in Cuba, to understand and create the artworks he left behind in his fictional sketchbook, which he could not produce while he was there or later during his lifetime. During my research in Havana, I found the traces of the Unknown Cuban Artist, who is still active today, but since his practice is critical of the system, most of his works are hidden or unavailable. After my return to Hungary, I realized some of the ideas and concepts that I could not realize in Cuba.” (Marko Rodics)

Exactly three years later, in January and February 2023, Lilla Szász spent six weeks at the Artista X Artista residency in Havana. She produced two new series of photographs. One series is a new chapter in her series on young people in urban spaces, which she has also done in other cities (Urban Tribes), while the other series deals with the impact of the recent economic crisis on people's everyday lives ("May you give us this day our daily bread").

About the Havana chapter of the Urban Tribe photo series, she writes: “Since most homes still don't have Internet... and broadband remains slow and even the $2-an-hour fee can be too expensive, the teenagers are drawn to the city's 35 Wi-Fi hotspots, where they meet and talk, not through machines, but face-to-face, in public... Theirs is an interesting mix of old-fashioned 'offline' and current 'online' communication. What do they do? Listen to hip hop, rap battle, record TikTok videos, take photos and videos for Instagram, skateboard and teach skateboarding, dance and talk...”

About the "Give us this day our daily bread" photo series
“Cuba is no stranger to food shortages and lack of access to basic goods... After the Covid-19 travel restrictions and the political decision to reserve imported goods for those with access to foreign currency, Cubans are struggling more than ever to obtain basic goods, and as a result, migration numbers are skyrocketing. Queues grow outside grocery stores... Many return home empty-handed.”
(Lilla Szász)

Ágnes Bihari, who will moderate the event, visited Cuba several times over a decade ago, and she encountered a Cuba that was different from todays.

"Between 2009 and 2011, I worked on several photographic projects in Cuba, which came across as a society with a particular closed system, where people are constantly confronted with limits and where the regime maintains a monolithic political system by physically (and partly mentally) restricting the majority society. I had the pleasure of meeting some excellent artists supported by the regime, as well as visual artists, musicians and bloggers who are considered opponents of the system. In part, I had to move around in a clandestine fashion, while also working on my own photo projects. My trips resulted in two solo exhibitions in Budapest (2011 and 2012), a blog on Népszabadság’s online platform, and several interviews and articles (Népszabadság, HVG, Artportal)."
(Ágnes Bihari)