Fairfield Professor Partners With Cuban Cinematographer for Documentary Short Film

Fairfield Professor Partners With Cuban Cinematographer for Documentary Short Film

The Fairfield University Art Museum exhibition was on view in the Thomas J. Walsh Gallery, and featured the works of six Cuban artists.

Produced by Michelle Leigh Farrell, PhD and award-winning filmmaker Javier Labrador Deulofeu, the film captures the curricular, cultural, and community impact of the recent Fairfield University Art Museum exhibition, Archives of Consciousness: Six Cuban Artists.

The film is meant to remind the entire community of what we all created by coming together, and the beautiful opportunity we had engaging with this collection of art.

— Michelle Leigh Farrell, PhD

After opening to a record-breaking number of visitors on January 23, 2020, Fairfield University Art Museum’s Archives of Consciousness: Six Cuban Artists exhibition promised students, faculty, and community members a treasure trove of educational events and opportunities related to the exhibit’s powerful portrayal of the struggles and experiences of life in Cuba’s revolutionary society.

Spearheaded by the College of Arts and Science's associate professor of Spanish Michelle Leigh Farrell, PhD, who is a Cubanist and a museum faculty liaison, the exhibition’s vast array of curricular integrations and public programs featured scholars and artists from Cuba, Florida, California, New York, and Massachusetts, and included a lecture by exhibit curator Lillian Guerra, PhD; a Cuban rueda dance class by New York instructor and performer Victorial Harel; and a fascinating panel discussion with Cuban filmmakers, documentarians, activists, and artists, titled "Cuba Today," all within the first several weeks of its opening.

But as the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold of the U.S. in early spring, several of the exhibition’s later projects would eventually fall victim to nationwide shut-downs and government mandates. Canceled events included a lecture by Harvard Professor Alejandro de la Fuente, PhD, on "The Art of Black Mobilization,a bilingual tour of the exhibit with students from Bridgeport’s Cesar Batalla School, and a gallery talk hosted by the owner of the exhibit’s works.

“Amidst all of these cancellations, I realized that we needed to echo the work that Dr. Guerra discussed in her opening talk — an archive, serving to witness changes and the moment that we were living in,” Dr. Farrell explained. “I contacted filmmaker Javier Labrador Deulofeu, who was a part of our "Cuba Today" panel, and asked if he and I could work together to make another archive to ensure that Covid-19 did not erase the meaningful ways people from all over the University and parts of the world came together to engage with this exhibit.”

After months of planning, producing, screenwriting, and editing, the result of Dr. Farrell and Deulofeu’s collaboration is an inspirational, 16-minute documentary short film, titled Tracing Archives of Consciousness: Six Cuban Artists, that captures the rich curricular and community connections surrounding the University’s exhibition.

“The film is meant to remind the entire community of what we all created by coming together, and the beautiful opportunity we had engaging with this collection of art,” Dr. Farrell said. “Re-visiting these pieces through Javier Labrador’s camera and the recorded talks of world-famous scholars made me see [the artists’] works in a slower, up-close, and more meaningful way. They no longer were intimidating pieces of art, but instead each one had a story that opened up to me, especially with the impressive soundtracks of artists that contributed to this piece.” The short documentary film is available for viewing, below.

Watch the Short Documentary, Tracing Archives of Consciousness: Six Cuban Artists:

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