De la India a Cuba: The History of a Lost and Invisible Diaspora.

Inspirazione Italiana performance photograph by Bob Rink
Performance/Video/Installation by Leandro Soto.

A long time ago, in the 19th Century, a diaspora from India came to the Caribbean as working class labor. In Cuba this emigration blended with other groups of people, dissolving themselves and changing names, religious practices, and traditions. Many elements originally from Indian culture can be found in Cuban everyday life – as in other islands – such as placing 3 clay elephants at the entrance of a house's first room in order to "bring in" good fortune (Ganesh). Sanskrit words are used in popular expressions like pachamga, vacam, and samsara, among many others. As sugar cane originally came from India and has become one of the most cultivated plants in the area, the landscape of South India has similarities to that of the New World.

In this performance the artist incarnates himself as an Indian emigrant who must change his traditional clothes into the Cuban guayabera when he lands. This change goes back and forth in a continuous cycle from the guayabera to the Indian clothing. In both transformations there is suffering: the clothes are attached to the skin, representing a difficult process of acceptance and mutation.

The artist never uses makeup to become this character. His own physical presence is transformed by simple costume elements, directly in front of the audience. Movements from Yoga and gestural body language are used to communicate with the audience. The video by Francisco Flores was done during the celebration of Holy in Barbados, West Indies.


Black and White photos by Mario Porchetta