By John Hood
It was all Bruce Springsteen’s fault. For nearly fifty years East was East and West was West and there wasn’t a damn thing anyone could do about it. Oh, people tried alright; powerful people too, including U.S. Presidents Kennedy (in 1963) and Reagan (in 1987). But not even a de facto Leader of the Free World could do what the de facto voice of New Jersey did. And all it took was a few rock songs.
Okay, so four hours of rock songs. More importantly, four hours of Springsteen rock songs, which have an earth-moving capacity no matter where they’re staged. In front of his largest crowd ever (300,000), in a place no real Western rockstar had ever before played (East Berlin), those songs moved the earth’s very axis.
We refer to The Berlin Wall, which all came tumbling down a mere 16 months after Springsteen came, saw and conquered. And we are only partly exaggerating. See, once the people of the Eastern Bloc got a taste of freedom, they wanted more, and Springsteen’s concert set the stage for them to get it. Not just because Springsteen is (and was) one of the biggest rock stars the West has ever produced, mind you (though there is that). But because his wattage is largely derived from the light cast by everyday people, and East Berliners could easily see themselves in Springsteen’s songs.
That truth remains self-evident even now, on the 25th Anniversary of The Fall of the Berlin Wall. And it is on behalf of that truth that we invite Miamians to commemorate the occasion at ICL Studio. For there you will find the work of Jorges Andres Castillo, who was there when The Wall came tumbling down and has the snaps to prove it. They’ve gotta be some snaps too, which is undoubtedly why would the German Embassy in Caracas has bankrolled a sister show. We’re concerned with right here right now though, and that means Wynwood, this Second Saturday, for JAC’s “Latent Fissures”. Read on to find out why this exhibition deserves to be so highly prized.
Who’s JAC and what does he do?
JAC is a Caracas-based communications designer and Professor of Photography/Film at Universidad Central de Venezuela (17 years). I was formerly Chief Photography Editor at El Nacional, where I led the transition from analog to digital. It’s like a receiving a PHD, but actually earning it.
What brings JAC to Miami?
I came to Miami because I think it’s a great city to showcase the history that I witnessed 25 years ago in Berlin. There’s a parallel exhibition that the German Embassy is sponsoring at the Theatre Caesar Rengrifo in Petare, which is one of the most notorious barrios in all of Caracas, it’s also one of the most historical in all of Venezuela.
Is there any difference in the exhibitions?
Only in title. In Caracas the show is called “Grietas invisibles”, which literally translates as ‘Invisible Cracks’, but it loses a lot in the translation.
Cracks, fissures in either language you’re referring to some kinda structural weakening, no?
Exactly. But it’s not so much the weakening of an actual structure itself, it’s the weakening of a societal structure. It’s one I witnessed from the front lines in Berlin, and one I’m now witnessing from the front lines in Caracas. The phenomenon is not exclusive to Venezuela though, or Berlin. It’s the history that’s been repeating itself throughout history.
But the point of your exhibitions is not merely to point out the obvious or to merely celebrate an occasion, however significant, right?
Right. I not only want to show what I witnessed, I want to tell about it too. But beyond the significance of the images, the event and the story, I want to use the Fall of the Berlin Wall as a metaphor for the walls humankind has always built, and seems insistent on building even to this day. I’m referring to all walls — physical, mental, societal, implied or otherwise. I wanna know why.
What exactly does “Latent Fissures” consist of?
Twenty-seven photos. Twenty-three were made in April 1989; four of them were made in December ‘89, after the Wall had fallen. No one could imagine in Spring what would happen that Fall. Fortunately, I was able to capture the unimaginable.
Why a majority of images from before rather than after?
The curators, Gabriel Osorio and Andres Manner of Cubo7 in Caracas, decided on the final number. The twenty-seven photos were culled from over 240; they considered those taken before the Fall of the Wall to be the rarest of all.