Curatorial Projects > This World Is Beginning To Tremble: Ché = R + Evolution (2003)

This World Is Beginning To Tremble: Ché = R + Evolution

A collaborative installation by Claudia Bernardi with Phil Atwood, Bootz, Ernesto Burgos, Brea Butler, Nefertiti Kelley-Farias, Dannae Enright, Svetlana Lutsker, James McLeod, Raul Orchilles, Josue Rojas, Kylie Stoneham, and Ana Szyld

March 19 – May 24, 2003
Intersection for the Arts
San Francisco, CA

Claudia Bernardi is an internationally known artist who works in the fields of human rights and social justice and who has exhibited her work in over 40 solo exhibitions. She was the subject of a 2000 documentary produced by Joe Segura of Arizona’s Segura Publishing Company entitled Pasa un Angel/An Angel Passes, which screened at New York’s Margaret Mead Film Festival and at the San Francisco International Film Festival, where it won the Golden Spire Award for Best Art Film. In all of her work over the past two decades – whether as an artist through installation, sculpture, and printmaking, as an educator through teaching and lecturing, or as a participant in human rights investigations – she has impacted thousands of people with her integrity, compassion, and truthfulness. As opposed to suggesting something that would highlight her own work, Bernardi chose to share this opportunity with a dozen local emerging artists she met through teaching at the California College of Arts and Crafts to collectively investigate the complex legacy of Ernesto Ché Guevara. An ambitious project months in the making, this collaborative installation melds a variety of conceptual strategies and visual media to articulate the qualities that define revolutionary action and change.

Even the most cursory examination of 90s popular culture reminds us that Ché has emerged as one of the most enduring icons of the 20th century; his image in particular can be found on clocks, t-shirts, and skateboards. Yet, looking past the iconography and exploring his life, there seems to be no agreement on his legacy. In the U.S., especially among the youth, he has emerged as a pop icon with no connection to history. In Europe, he is often remembered merely as a relic of the revolutionary 1960s. But in Latin America, particularly in Cuba, Ché continues to be a symbol of faith and hope. As a doctor, teacher, journalist, photographer, banker, political negotiator, and of course, a skilled military commander and guerilla fighter, Ché has come to be seen by millions as a renaissance man of the 20th Century. The lesson of his life is one of hope and dedication, sacrifice and discipline. He always kept the goals of achieving political self-sufficiency, economic justice, and social equity through revolutionary means in front of him – ever optimistic and single-minded in his purpose. What does Ché represent in the history of world affairs? What does he mean to this group of artists?

Looking past the famous 1960 Korda photograph, the artists chose to emphasize the role of education as a primary strategy for exploring Ché’s legacy. Ché read poetry not only at the podium during speeches, but also to soldiers on the front line in the Sierra Maestra. He taught his men, most of them unschooled, illiterate, and without opportunity, both combat tactics as well as reading and math skills. Arming a person with the tools for literacy is one of the most impactful, transformative actions to perform. Moreover, introducing a person to the infinite possibilities of art and poetics is one of the greatest acts of poetic revenge. Ultimately, this installation represents the continuity of this thread of education. For Bernardi, who has introduced dozens of younger artists to the intersection of art and resistance through her years of teaching, this project represents that transference of knowledge to a younger generation. For the dozen younger collaborating artists, this exhibition is their collective articulation of the ideals Ché stood for. And for our community, in the spirit of Ché’s ideals, we hope this installation embodies our belief that things can change for the better.