First Night

Xavier Cortada, “1999 Mural: Preparing for a new ME-llennium”, 48″ x 108″, mixed media on canvas, 1998.

xavier cortada's FIRST NIGHT art project

Cuban American artist Xavier Cortada’s First Night project, developed in both Spanish and English, is designed to help us all prepare for the upcoming millennium. Appropriately titled “A New Me-llennium,” the project consists of an “Awareness Tunnel” of video and painted murals expressing topics such as AIDS, drunk driving, street children in Bolivia, and youth gangs. As participants walk through the zig-zag tunnel, there will be places for them to sit and reflect on the images and the role we play in this world as we welcome the year 1999. At the end of the tunnel – where Cortada will be working on a new painting – participants will be asked to contribute messages which will be incorporated into the canvas. As midnight strikes, Cortada will be working on his first painting of the year–a painting that explores how to spend 1999 preparing for the new Millennium.

xavier cortada's vision of a new me-llennium

THE CONCEPT – The year 2000.
That natural break that separates the “Me” of this millennium from the “Me” of the next millennium. But the latter is different because he discards the negative and embraces the positive. Too often, we let our dysfunctions, our bad habits get the better of us. We resolve to change them at the beginning of every New Year, but eventually succumb to our old ways.

But not this year. Not in 1999. Because 1999 is the last year of this millennium. It is our last shot at changing. Evolving, transforming. If the symbolism of entering a new Millennium isn’t enough to force us to address all those things about us we want to change, then perhaps those things are simply an inherent part of our being. Accepting them would be a part of that change.

So this New Year’s Eve will seriously look at managing that transformation during the next 12 months. To continue on this journey. On this healing, soul searching. This life process. This evolution, maturation. This place where we look at becoming whole. Addressing a whole range of issues: being at peace, being financially stable. In check, physically, emotionally. Mentally, spiritually. All.

Jan 1, 2000 will arrive soon. It will be a new Me. One without all the baggage of the last millennium. So, the new millennium is about a new me. A new order. A new world.


THE PROJECT – The Awareness Tunnel
Cortada will have participant walk through an “awareness tunnel” showcasing some of Cortada’s collaborative community projects around the world. These will include actual art pieces (The Bridging the Gap Mural, MADD murals, the Bolivian Street Children Mural), as well as video-installations and blown up text and photographs documenting several of his awareness generating projects on issues like violence, AIDS, and street children. Confronted with the way others have persevered to resolve their problems around the globe, the tunnel challenges participants to address how they plan to resolve their own personal struggles in the coming year.

Aside from generating awareness about global issues and stimulating introspection, the awareness tunnel demonstrates the process of collaborating on art projects and encourages participants to assist in the creation of the painting at the end of the tunnel.

The focus of the painting is on how they plan to spend 1999 preparing for the millennium.


The 1999 Painting
Cortada will be at the tunnel’s exit painting away and facilitating participants in a collaborative art process. On tables there will be drawing utensils and pieces of paper for people to write their resolutions. Their hopes and aspirations. And their baggage. Their cleansing process. All the negative things in their lives that they plan to rid themselves of as they build themselves anew for the new millennium.

These messages will be incorporated by Cortada into his 1999 painting, similar to the way messages from people from different places were incorporated into the surrounding murals. . As midnight strikes, Cortada will be working on his first painting of the year–a painting that explores how to spend 1999 preparing for the new Millennium.

For more information on First Night, please call 305-670-7053.