The Barbara Lee Family Foundation proudly supports 53+1=54+1=55. Letter of The Year, a multimedia video/sound, sculptural installation for the 55th Venice Biennale, by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons and Neil Leonard. 53+1=54+1=55. Letter of the Year utilizes symbols idiosyncratic to Cuban culture and correlates with idioms centered within the western canon, and talks back to power and the concomitant structure of Eurocentric male dominance. It is about home, migration, the necessity of finding and redefining the meaning of permanency and locality; a reflection in the accumulation of knowledge, both academic and vernacular, coupled with the raw beauty of street intelligence, the entrapments of the search for information, and the contrast of that which is forbidden and that which is imposed. It proposes homage to the countless lives lost and the daily rituals of survival and empowerment in the pursuit of freedom, all while in the search for selfhood. The installation is a construct of architecture and sound, old and new always in motion – so typical of Cuban cities but also inherently global.
Campos-Pons and Leonard have spent over twenty years producing installation artworks that champion cultural understanding, tolerance for differences and a cosmopolitan dialogue as a bridge for better interactions among people. 53+1=54+1=55. Letter of The Year evolved from the installation Llegoo FeFa – premiered at 11th Havana Biennial – and reclaims small fragments of time and life within a grid where time collapses and narratives juxtapose.