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Trembling Thinking: Exhibition focuses on the ideas developed by Lydia Cabrera and Édouard Glissant
Julie Mehretu, Topoglyph (Mutation), 2015. Ink and acrylic on canvas. 30 x 40 inches; 76.2 x 101.6 cm. Private Collection. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging. Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York. © Julie Mehretu.

NEW YORK, NY.- Americas Society is presenting Lydia Cabrera and Édouard Glissant: Trembling Thinking, an exhibition that focuses on the ideas developed by the prominent Caribbean thinkers Lydia Cabrera (Havana, 1899Miami, 1991) and Édouard Glissant (SainteMarie, Martinique, 1928-Paris, 2011). This exhibition is organized in partnership with the Cuban Heritage Collection of the University of Miami.

The exhibition presents modern and contemporary artists whose works respond to Cabrera and Glissant’s notions of literary ethnography, difference, opacity, and cultural multiplicity. Curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist (Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries, London), Gabriela RangeI (Chief Curator and Director of Visual Arts, Americas Society), and Asad Raza (Artist) with the assistance of Diana Flatto (Assistant Curator, Americas Society), Trembling Thinking is on view at the Americas Society Art Gallery from October 9, 2018 through January 12, 2019.

“Édouard Glissant was one of the most important writers and philosophers of our time. He called attention to means of global exchange that do not homogenize culture but produce a difference from which new things can emerge,” said Hans Ulrich Obrist. “His poems, novels, plays, and theoretical essays are a ‘toolbox’ I use every day in my praxis as an exhibition curator.”

In Trembling Thinking the legacy of Édouard Glissant, whose ideas of mondialité advocated for difference in the face of homogenizing globalization, is projected in the work of modern and contemporary artists including Etel Adnan, Manthia Diawara, Melvin Edwards, Koo Jeong A, Julie Mehretu, Philippe Parreno, Anri Sala, Diamond Stingily, and Jack Whitten. The show also assembles parts of Glissant’s own unrealized project, “Musée du Tout-Monde” with works by Roberto Matta and Antonio Seguí, both colleagues of Glissant in Paris.

“Lydia Cabrera not only pioneered the study of Afro Cuban traditions, which is a fundamental path for understanding the history and culture of the Caribbean, but examined its various creolizations,” commented Gabriela Rangel. “Cabrera was a self-taught polymath who should be paired to Glissant and who understood José Marti’s idea of the archipelago as a passage to the crossroads of the world. Trained as an artist in Paris in the 1920s, Cabrera’s mastering of ethnographical storytelling requests to be revisited by both artists and social scientists as anticipatory of the role of subjectivity vis-a-vis documentary truth.”

Trembling Thinking presents Cuban writer-ethnographer Lydia Cabrera as a bridge to the realm of the polyglot diversity of Eduard Glissant’s idea of mondialité, which embraces a relational diversity. At the start of the 20th century, a generation of nationalist Cuban intellectuals began to view their country through an ethnographical prism that reflected the various cultures that made up the nation, vis-à-vis slavery. Drawing from this critical perspective, the show raises questions about the role of black culture, its religions and mythologies, through a reconsideration of Lydia Cabrera and her intellectual legacy since the first publication of Cuentos negros de Cuba in Paris in 1936. The show includes first editions by Cabrera and Aimé Césaire, letters to Cabrera from intellectuals including Roger Caillois, Pierre Verger, Roger Bastide, and Guillermo Cabrera Infante, as well as relevant photographs, notebooks, and drawings, including works by Wifredo Lam from Cabrera’s personal collection. The exhibition includes artwork by modern and contemporary artists that highlight the intellectual and artistic connection between Glissant and Cabrera, including Wifredo Lam, Kader Attia, Tania Bruguera, Asad Raza, and Elena Tejada-Herrera, emphasizing the thinkers’ shared and enduring legacy in the Caribbean and elsewhere.

“There is a real need to revisit the poetics of Lydia Cabrera and Édouard Glissant, who each thought about identity, dialogue, and race in ways more complex and cogent than we are capable of today,” observed Asad Raza. “Trembling Thinking attempts to revisit their thought as well as the work of artists who have been inspired by their work. I hope that this hybrid exhibition--between exposition, reflection and creation--will give visitors an experience of the urgency of these thoughts, for their time and ours.”

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Trembling Thinking: Exhibition focuses on the ideas developed by Lydia Cabrera and Édouard Glissant

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