Adrian Melis is a Cuban artist who lives and works in Greece. His artistic reflection is rooted in Cuban and European socioeconomic conditions. Exploring topics such as unemployment, bureaucratic inefficiency, and the corruption of the entrepreneurial and political classes, he incorporates into his work the experiences of workers who have been victims of those realities. He finds particular inspiration in the labour conditions of Cuba’s salaried workers, and uses irony and absurdity to highlight the population’s lack of motivation and productivity.
The making of forty rectangular pieces for a floor construction
For the video The making of forty rectangular pieces for a floor construction, Melis met with workers of a State-run floor covering company who had no choice but to spend their days at their workplace waiting for a fresh supply of materials to arrive.
He asked them to reproduce the sound of the factory machines, left unmanned, running during normal hours of operation. The odd, disturbing soundtrack accompanies images of the abandoned work site to accurately capture the absurdity of the situation and the limits of the Cuban civil service system.
The Value of Absence - Excuses to be absent from your workplace
The video installation The value of absence examines Cuba’s socialist productivist model and sheds light on a phenomenon that is rampant among Cuban wage earners. State-owned businesses are tolerant of employee absenteeism, which is a widespread occurrence. Interested in the creative process behind the workers’ inventive excuses for not showing up to work, Adrian Melis paid workers to not go to work and recorded the telephone conversation during which they explain to their employer the reason for their absence, which could be for one day—or one month. (These employees were paid what they would have earned had they gone to work.) In this fashion, the artist has compiled an entire cata-logue of excuses for not going to work, while in the process trying to determine what the limits of the Cuban labour system are.
© Picture by Adrian Melis