Abel FL Berriz
Ocean Drive 1052. Saturday, December 3.
We arrive at the place. It’s hard to find number 1052 among the crowd of people passing by, drinking in the terraces, selling stuff. The number is rather small and hard to see beyond canopies and ornamental plants.
We walk through an open corridor. At the end, to the right, there’s a glass door. A lobby. A sign.
There’s an exhibition in the 3rd floor. P.U.E.N.T.E. Porque Ustedes Entienden Nuestros Temas En Candela. Cuban artists, the whole thing organized and curated by Belaxis Buil. Shoes embedded in golden plastic foam. Entangled pieces of colorful clothes. Prints. B&W. Acrylic paintings. Boatlifts. This is all about Cuba, mi hermano.
5th floor. Terrace. Screen. Art video. No one here. Only the screen. Only the video. There’s a deep feeling of solitude. A desolation. If 3rd floor exhibition is Cuba, 5th is exile.
We keep going. We get to the 6th floor. The rooftop.
A sort of ATM machine at the door.
Candles. A list. People in that list.
Spotlights. A pool. Installations. Dance. Theater. Maybe kabuki?
Graffiti walls. An altar. A shrine.
Dancers. Women. Latino, Cuban women.
People pass briefly by the 3rd floor. Many go directly to the 6th.
Statues. Woman-statues. Walking statues.
The shrine. A chair.
There’s some beatnik-like ambiance.
A woman walks and places herself on the chair. A black woman in a fancy yellowish dress. A white paper flower hat in her hair.
The woman just sits there, posing. The sea wind blows her skirt and her flower hat.
I sense some kind of emptiness. Decadence. Music. The dance of the decade.
A trumpet sounds. Or a trombone. Maybe a saxophone.
A man dressed like a woman–a blond wig, a flowerbed gown, white socks, flipflops–sweeps the floor. Is the woman beside me also a model?
Cuban drums. Some Afro-Cuban, Latin jazz.
The manwoman sweeps the floor around us. I see him/her clearly.
He wears not flipflops. Rather slippers. The manwoman looks concerned. White manwoman sweeps while black woman is seated like a queen on her throne. Cosa rica.
I walk around.
Over the pool, a rope for hanging clothes. Hangers. Cement blocks hold the rope. Men with womanly hats pass me by. Small toy cars on the floor. A toy tractor. A toy truck.
People pose beside the womanly dressed black woman on the chair.
A red plastic bucket by the truck by the pool. The manwoman searches the bucket. Nothing there. Nothing yet. He/she keeps sweeping.
Black womanflower keeps seating.
People keep coming. Are they public or models? Are they different parts of the performance-exhibition? Are we all?
The fifties/sixties ambiance persists.
At the bottom of the rooftop, there are people in canopies. Why are they here?
Models behind the canopy curtains. A woman from the public? asks something to the black woman with the white flower hat on the chair. Black womanflower opens her arms. Spreads her arms. Dances? She moves like a sunflower.
Another model walks and stands by.
A sexy model. Skinny model in high heels. Cosa rica.
White sexy brunette skinny model.
The manwoman still in an eternal useless task. Like Sisyphus.
The skinny model shivers. There’s a cold wind coming from the sea.
I see towels. Sheets. Striped sheets or towels.
I see Cuban bata drums. Drummers. A mulatto fat Cuban model in blue sits by the sheets. Does like she washes the sheets.
The manwoman sweeps.
Another model comes out the canopy. A shiny lentil glitter model with sunglasses.
She stands between the washer and the blackflower. Bata drummers. Cosa rica.
Another skinny sexy latino model in a short flowered robe. She smokes. Defiant. 1950s-like hairdo. High heels. Cosa rica.
The manwoman sweeps. Keeps sweeping.
The smoking model stands by the pool, behind the blackflower.
Another sexy tall model comes. A shorthaired black model in a vaporous dress. Cosa rica.
And another sexy skinny blond in black sunglasses. High heels. A yellow shawl on her shoulders. Cosa rica.
Belaxis appears in a black night dress. Cosa rica.
In a way, this is the less aggressive performance by Belaxis Buil. It seems kind of soft.
But it’s not.
It’s a rose-petal blow, but still a blow. So violent you’ll never know what hit you. And it’s not over yet.
It’s Belaxis, mi hermano. You know there’s got to be otra cosa detrás de este teatro. Didn’t you see the shrine? The goathead and the dolls? The flowers? The seawind? This is witchcraft. Woman witchcraft. Heavy. And you’re part of it and you don’t know it.
I was talking with Belaxis a week before. She kind of told me what to expect. It was all about Cuban woman.
You may see it in the dresses, very 1950s-like prêt-à-porter Cuban fashion. Powerful Cuban women.
Belaxis Buil, Miami, 1975, is a sexy and extraordinarily intelligent Cuban-American woman. She knows what means to be an intelligent and beautiful woman. You could whistle at her when you see her walking down the streets. You could call her “cosa rica.” Now, at the rooftop, someone brings chairs for the drummers. The drummers start playing. Cuban rumba. A mí no me jode nadie que esto es un toque de santo, chico. I told you, man. These aren’t women. These are Afro-Cuban goddesses.
The washer starts moving. No more a statue. She washes a blue cloth. The music. The instruments: bata drum and cowbell. The washer woman washes blue cloth to the rhythm of music. She rinses, squeezes the cloth. The naked-feet washer. Cosa rica.
Belaxis spots a model with a flashlight. The short-haired black woman moves, hand on head. She stands between the sexy skinny brunette and the blonde. The model with black sunglasses dances slowly. The washer dances. Squeezes. Shakes. Hits the floor with the blue cloth. Possessed.
Drums. Afro-Cuban dances.
Invocations to saints. Afro-Cuban deities.
Flower-woman stands and moves. She says no with the pointer finger. The sexy smoker dances. All models move. All in different ways, with different paces. Someone whistles. Cosa rica.
Flower-woman sits again. The smoker dances. She’s got tiny pink panties. Victoria’s secret, probably.
The drummers whistle. Scream. Chant.
The sexy skinny brunette moves. She seems mad.
The washer washes. She takes water from the pool in the red plastic bucket.
She piles the dry clothes in lots and throws the wet clothes to the pool. The washer throws water. The floor around her becomes wet.
The other models change clothes, meanwhile. Cuban motifs. Cosa rica.
The washer washes her feet, her legs, her arms, her neck. Cosa rica.
Clothes in the bottom of the pool. Cosa rica.
Sexy mulatto smoker in tiny pink panties dances and dances around. Cosa rica.
The drums. Cosa rica. The whistles. Cosa rica.
She dances. Cosa rica.
Dances. Dances. Dances.