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Parables (the conversation)

Artists Meira Marrero, Loring McAlpin, and José Angel Toirac in conversation with Michelle Bird, curatorial associate, department of French paintings, National Gallery of Art. Parables (the project/exhibition) by Meira Marrero and José Angel Toirac is a collection of 33 photographs of Cuban life published by the official Cuban press. Sources range from magazines and newspapers like Granma, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, to books on the history of the revolution. These photographs constitute a narrative of the Cuban Revolution as well as a retelling of the Gospels, with Fidel Castro performing the life of Christ from his childhood in Nazareth to his ascension into Heaven. Just as Christianity appropriated pagan festivals, the Cuban state has incorporated biblical stories into its narrative of the Revolution. Christian expressions have been fashioned into official slogans such as “these are the days to unite.” In Parables the religious roots of this idolatry are exposed. Poet, fiction writer, editor, and New Narrative theorist Robert Glück was invited to write the “scripture” accompanying these images, as if compelled by the faith they conveyed, without mention of either Fidel or Jesus. Parables (the book) is a limited-edition artist book of 33 parables, each with a corresponding image, designed by Cynthia Madansky and Loring McAlpin. In Parables (the conversation)—held at the National Gallery of Art on October 28, 2018—Michelle Bird discusses the project and publication with Marrero, McAlpin, and Toirac.