Details of the model
Explore Letter to the Censors by clicking on each section.
The model is built on a wooden base that is placed on top of metal table legs. Around this the artist has placed scaffolding typical of that seen supporting the old buildings of Havana.
Letter to the Censors views
There are fifty-one hand modelled figures and three dogs which occupy the cinema and the surrounding arcades. The figures are made from a material similar to Plasticine, each with their own individual posture and gesture. Each figure is approximately 5 cm high.
Figures inside and outside
The censor’s office is situated in a corner of the cinema on the first floor, in a well lit room. The censor and his assistant sit in front of a pile of unwound film. Behind them is a shelf stacked high with film canisters. Garaicoa has used Cuban money to simulate the film canisters, and standard audio cassette tape for the unwound film.
The model's roof has been left open to reveal the auditorium with its green chairs, stalls and balcony. The screen shows the titles of censored films from around the world. The red carpeted floor slopes towards the stage to allow the audience a good view. The movie's audience of nineteen figures are seated throughout the auditorium.
View in the auditorium and architectural drawing
Censored film titles from the shown video
© Tate Conservation
Click images to enlarge
There are a total of 1,014 separate film titles which are shown over a duration of 80 minutes. Each title is shown for approximately 5 seconds before it fades into the next title. The titles are accompanied by the intermittent sound of a clarinet. Garaicoa’s wife holds the position of first clarinet for the Symphony Orchestra of Cuba and here plays 'Sequenza IX' by the composer Lucino Berio.
Garaicoa thought carefully about the introduction of music to the piece. In an interview with Tate conservation, he explains how he hates the use of music with video, if the music is not good. However for this piece, he felt that the addition of contemporary instrumental music would add something and draw people in.
My wife is a clarinet player and I loved this music from Berio, it is very strong with a lot of energy. I always listened to her playing that, I’ve been thinking that I would like to do something with video that would fit the music because the music is very intense. I came up with this idea and I said that it is very strong, the song, the clarinet, very intense. And then, the reason that we play twenty minutes on and twenty minutes off is for people to rest.
The power supply for the lighting accessories and electronic equipment is hidden in its own space, above the foyer, and is accessed by the removal of the pitched roof above. In the wall towards the auditorium is an opening through which the film is projected.
Surrounding the model are ten light boxes containing black and white photographs, each showing the decaying facade of a Cuban cinema.
The photographs capture both the former grandeur of Havana’s movie theatres and their current state of dereliction.