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Marco Polo Syndrome

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El libro de la vida [The Book of Life]

20th century
42.5 cm x 55.9 cm (16 3/4 in. x 22 in.)

Ricardo Rodríguez Brey (Havana, 1955 - ) Primary

Object Type: print
Artist Nationality: Latin America, Cuban
Medium and Support: Screenprint
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Fran Magee Fund, 2005
Accession Number: 2005.24

Ricardo Rodríguez Brey’s, alludes to the anthropological and cultural histories of his own culture in his work. Brey juxtaposes manuscripts of explorers, scientists, and early European writings on the Americas with imagery of Afro-Cuban culture. The positioning of these amongst each other creates a tension between the realities of the explorers versus the reality of the Afro-Cuban culture (a theme often found in the Latin American novel). In El libro de la vida, Brey uses pages from other books or journals to create his own work that appears to be an open page. The printed text in the center of the work is from a book of personal narratives on travel and exploration in South America by Alexander de Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland. This passage describes traveling along a South American river at night and staying at a mission where they were greeted with surprising hospitality. Below this passage is an image of two human figures with a clear authority represented in the larger one. Brey’s use of the passage and image generates the tension mentioned above and opens a dialogue between image and text as well as artwork and audience.

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