Carlos Martiel

Carlos Martiel was born in 1989 in Havana, Cuba. He lives and works in New York and Havana.

He graduated in 2009 from the National Academy of Fine Arts “San Alejandro,” in Havana. Between the years 2008-2010, he studied in the Cátedra Arte de Conducta, directed by the artist Tania Bruguera.

Carlos Martiel, has been described as provocative and raw. His explorations of existence’s nature, social barriers, and cultural traditions, have been described as aggressive comments on ethics. Commenting on issues such as censorship or persecution for cultural or political reasons, especially in his country, the artist sees his performances as a response to the way society and history have treated minorities and outsiders. For him, “Action is an effort of junction which is translated into a geometrical-performative tension, into grief and nearly mantric ecstasy of a body declined into its unshakable alterity.”

The artist uses his body as a vessel for these expressions, putting it in difficult situations and painful states. By removing his clothes and harming himself, Martiel humbly offers his body as a statement against the prejudices and rejection that he and his hometown have faced. Asentamiento, (2012) is the photographic vestige of Martiel’s performance on the beach of Manta, Ecuador. There, he entered the sea and held a rock over his shoulders for one hour.

In Martiel’s work, the context of belonging and the awareness of his own body are always shown as being the mutable outcome for complex processes of attribution. In Asentamiento, (2012), the desert-like beach is as inhospitable as his feeling. In this art piece, the artist’s body turns into part of the landscape to be crossed and covered, his skin becomes a painting to be personalized and understood with specific signs of belonging.

Martiel’s works have been included in the Biennial of the Americas, USA; 4th Vancouver Biennale, Canada; 14th Sharjah Biennial, UAE; 14th Cuenca Biennial, Ecuador; 57th Venice Biennale, Italy; Casablanca Biennale, Morocco; Biennial “La Otra”, Colombia; Liverpool Biennial, United Kingdom; Pontevedra Biennial, Spain; Havana Biennial, Cuba. He has had performances at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; La Tertulia Museum, Cali, Colombia; Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, Quito, Ecuador; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA; The Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH), Houston, USA; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo del Zulia (MACZUL), Maracaibo, Venezuela; Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan, Italy; Robert Miller Gallery, New York, USA; Nitsch Museum, Naples, Italy. He has received several awards, including the Franklin Furnace Fund in New York, USA, 2016; “CIFOS Grants & Commissions Program Award” in Miami, USA, 2014; “Arte Laguna” in Venice, Italy, 2013. His work has been exhibited at The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), Long Beach, USA; Zisa Zona Arti Contemporanee (ZAC), Palermo, Italy; Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum, Miami, USA; Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece; National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana, Cuba; Tornielli Museum, Ameno, Italy; Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires, Argentina; among others.

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