Heterogénesis - Magazine of Visual Arts- 2006 nr 55-56

The Refrigerator in the Dynamics of the Urban Culture

The food conservation has always been an issue for the producers of foods but also for homes to keep a longer time the provisions. The appearance of the refrigerators for family consumption, just as it has been the television and the computers in recent times, meant a qualitative important change in the everyday life. Their predecessor, the wooden box with a compartment on the top to put snow could not compete with the modern technology and it finished its days in the forgetfulness. Quickly the refrigerator became an object of first necessity in every home. With this revolutionary invention you could not only conserve the foods for a longer time but you could even make ice at home to cool water and soda, which in a hot country as Cuba is very important. Certainly if the refrigerator could be full with food it will be “la consagración de la primavera”.

With the refrigerator as support the team formed by Roberto Fabelo, Mario Miguel Gonzlález, Jorge Luis Montesinos and Axel Li invited 54 artist to intervene refrigerators and to transform them in art objects. The exhibition named Manual of Instructions took place in the National Centre of Conservation, Restoration and Museology in the old convent of Santa Clara during the days the Biennial was going on. Being the refrigerator a central object of the urban Cuban life and of all the cities of the planet we believe that the project deserve a space in this edition dedicated to the biennial and its concept: dynamic of the urban culture.

The result was a wide range of works that goes from the simple painting of figures on the surface of the refrigarador to complex interventions with sound and other resources that transformed the refrigerators in a can of beer, a a coffin, a confession box, a padlock, a piece of the pier, a car, a clock, etc. Each refrigerator expresses a side of the urban Cuban culture.

Among well-known artists there were Alexis Leyva Machado (Kcho), who transformed his old and rusty refrigerator into a kind of boat-robot that looked like it was rotating with the oars put all over the machine.
Perhaps the more ironical piece is Good-by Rocco made by the actor Jorge Perugorría (internationally know for his role as Diego in the film Strawberry & Chocolate, 1995) and Juan Carlos Tabío (co-director of the same film). Perugorría y Tabío transform an old refrigerator into a coffin and put it in a deathwatch of it self. In a message put close to the coffin they tell about the kind of life hard-working Rocco has had since it touched Cuban land to the en of its days...in the convent of Santa Clara. (We published the complete text.)

Jorge Perrugoria / Juan Carlos Tabio: Adiós compañero / Good by Rocco

Good-by Rocco


Here it lies, against its will, comrade Rocco. It was born in Detroit in August of 1952, in the General Motors factory. In its earliest days it witnessed the confron-tations of the trade unions and the racial vindications that shook its city of birth, thus forging its unvanquished fighting spirit.

Being still very young, together with its 250 brothers, it is forced to board the overcrowded General Custer - a cousin of General Motors- steamboat arriving at the bay of Havana in January of 1953. Here in Havana it is purchased, like ordinary merchandise, at the store “El Encanto” by the Orozco family, adopting as of that moment a bourgeois life of abundance during which it chilled the most exquisite delicacies and liquors. It is not until five years later, in 1958, when little Joaquin, the youngest child of the Orozco’s, at the time a Law student at the University of Havana, begins to hide among champagnes and lobsters subversive proclamations of the 26 of Julio movement, which causes comrade Rocco to regain its consciousness and to enter the revolutionary struggle, going as far as to welcome in the deep of its entrails a comrade of little Joaquin persecuted by the Tigers of Masferrer.

By 1960, the Survivors of the Orozco family, (including little Joaquin) leave the country, and the mansion of the Orozco’s (and, of course, comrade Rocco itself), become property of the State.

Actively connected to the high-voltage currents of all the processes of revo-lutionary transformations, comrade Rocco participates in the Alphabetization Campaign, the Crisis of October and the Harvest of the 10 Million Tons (working in this more than 365 days per year). During all these years comrade Rocco, far from longing for the fillets and caviars of its youth, dedicated itself, with laudable perseverance, to the task of cooling cookies, pastries, cosmonaut cro-quets (of the kind that stick to the “roof of the mouth”), refreshments known as “brake liquid”, and water – plenty of water that quenched the thirst of our students and militia men.

At the beginning of the 70s, upon the arrival of his Soviet pairs, comrade Rocco is confined to an honourable “plan pyjamas”, forgotten in a dark warehouse throughout five grey years, until the “inventive” administrator of the warehouse barters it, in a manoeuvre “by the left”, for a set of twelve chairs to a humble proletarian family, among whose members, and with its customary disinterested effort and the joy of feeling useful again, comrade Rocco prepares itself to freeze delicious “durofríos”1, thus becoming the provider of the family and thereby gaining the affection of all the children of the district.

The 80s are the years in which comrade Rocco can live off the fruits of its work. With the earnings from the sale of those “durofríos”, comrade Rocco is rewarded with small cream cheeses, plastic ham, garden-style chicken, Bulgarian wines and an occasional chocolate cake (of the kind that cost 10 Cuban Pesos ), getting even to cool down for itself a small piece of pork and a beer in the holidays. And of course, the ever present eggs.

At the beginning of the 90s, and as a result of the “Special Period”, comrade Rocco is put under the aggravating system of blackouts that puts it on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Those blackouts turned out to be so prolonged that when the electrical current briefly recovered, comrade Rocco came to think that it was being subject to “electrical shocks”.

It was at those difficult moments that the humble dwelling of the family who wel-comed comrade Rocco as an ordinary member, is chosen by the ICAIC2 as the main location for the shooting of the film “Fresa y Chocolate” in which comrade Rocco, despite its deteriorated physical and mental health, plays the protagonist role, with the unanimous acclamation of the public and the critics as (by far) the best actor of the film.

Far from getting swollen by such an ecu-menical triumph, comrade Rocco under-takes with renewed determination the perspectives offered by a new horizon of success: Head of Refrigerators of the Paladar3 “La Guarida”, because a paladar is what its house is transformed into as soon as the shooting of the above men-tioned film is over.

Now, comrade Rocco is again cooling the forgotten delicacies and liquors of its youth. In this “paladar”, the charis-matic presence of comrade Rocco is at the focus of attention of all the clients, getting even to converse with the Queen of Spain, for whom it produces from its frozen en-trails a local sweet potato that received the encomiums of His Majesty.

Thus passed the placid old days of com-rade Rocco, hoping that, as in a dream, natural death would arrive with that peace of spirit of that which has ful-filled with good conscience any task ever been entrusted to it.

But no, the death of comrade Rocco arri-ves in a tragic and sudden way, as it is pub-licly declared an “Energy Engulfer”.

Its relays and voltage regulators could not stand the shame, and comrade Rocco explodes in a flaming and fatal short circuit that sounded in the entire dis-trict like a fateful PLAFF!

Rocco comrade, wherever you are now, let our gratefulness and our deepest con-dolences reach out to you for all your sleepless nights so that once and for all you rest in peace.

Good bye comrade
Good-by Rocco

Adiós compañero
Good-by Rocco

From your comrades of the Group ROCINANTE Creation

Jorge Perugorría
Juan Carlos Tabío



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