Painted Cuban Plane and Freedom Luggage Installation

In May 2004, ¡Celebra Libertad! featured Xavier Cortada’s painted airplane:  his painting on the actual Russian Antonov-2 Colt airplane that brought a family from Cuba to the United States.

Cortada also presented 45 pieces of luggage numbered sequentially from 1959 to 2004, representing each year the Cuban community has been in exile.  Each piece is to  include letters from exiles describing their diaspora:

Name: _____________________________________________
Where are you from (city in Cuba): _______________
Date of departure from Cuba: ____________________
1. What did you leave behind? ___________________________________________
2. What did you find when you arrived?____________________________________
Participants are invited to contribute their comments.  Answer the questions above and mail them to:
Cuban Heritage Collection/ University of Miami Libraries
Xavier Cortada Collection
1300 Memorial Drive / P.O. Box 248214
Coral Gables, FL 33124-0320

Artist's Statement

As a child, my grandmother would sit in her rocking chair and tell me stories about Cuba. It was the only way for her to introduce family members on the island to her US-born grandson. She succeeded; I knew them all by name. In my head, I had bathed in their beaches, played in their parks, slept in their homes.

She also taught me about the savagery of the Cuban Revolution. How it executed opponents, proscribed civil liberties, denied due process, appropriated private property. In my head, I saw how my Dad boarded an airplane and was forced to flee his beloved homeland.

Growing up in Cuban Miami –attending Los Municipios, praying in La Ermita, or listening to Cuban radio– I experienced first hand how the regime had destroyed so many other lives. Every time another exile landed, I relived the stories.

Today, I tackle the tragedy of the Cuban Revolution by appropriating one of its airplanes and surrounding it with differently colored suitcases filled with letters from Cuban exiles. I want to present their individual stories, one by one through the course of all these years. Like colors of a rainbow that come together to create white light, all these stories will come together to tell the truth. To bring the truth about Cuba to light.

One day, Cuba will see justice. It will be free. All these bad things will go away, but the individual accounts of a people’s journey to freedom can never be forgotten. Carrying their voices to future generations may prevent this tragedy from ever happening again.

!Viva Cuba Libre!

Xavier Cortada. May 2004
“Painted Cuban Plane & Freedom Luggage Installation”