Project Name

El sonido de la labor


    Ibis Hernández Abascal


    XIII Havana Biennial

Project Details

El sonido de la labor (The sound of labor) is composed of four pieces that could function with relative autonomy but reach their highest poetic-symbolic dimension in the condition of a single work.

This project insists on the encounter and interrelationship between the visual arts and the sonic elements associated with the universe of labor.

Del sonido de la labor. Cantos de trabajo


The trinitarian tunes are a unique modality within the complex Afro-Cuban musical manifestations exclusive of the city of Trinidad, in the province of Sancti Spiritu. They are the product of the encounter between the guajira tradition, the musical practices derived from the Bantú and the melodic twirls coming from Spain. Between the stanzas and melodies that are preserved through the veteran bearers, some are identified as work songs in the cane fields. It is precisely this repertoire on which this chapter of the project is based, consisting of a video installation and a live action.

Filmed in the Valle de los ingenios with the voice as the protagonist, this work travels through the landscapes that were once sugarcane plantations sustained by the work of the slaves. The Watchtower, the ruins of the barracks, the rancher’s farm are staged for this sound action that appeals to memory.

During the live action, the Tonadas Trinitarias choir group in collaboration with a lyric chorus, performed five tunes in the lobby of the Galbán Lobo Student Residence, which building walls are covered by paintings that refer to the process of cultivation, extraction, and commercialization of sugarcane. The first tune, sung at the door of the house, begins by saying, “I ask your mercy to let me sing, to let me sing, to let me sing … ”


Del sonido de la labor. La lectora


The reading in the tobacco shops was introduced in Havana in the middle of the 19th century. This initiative took the reading to the factories to alleviate the long and tedious days of the cigar rollers. It turned out that this knowledge was leaving an ideological deposit and turned the tobacco sector into a seasoned collective and liable to the ideas of independence.

This work starts with the idea of transplanting the trade of the tobacco shop reader to another work context: the garment factory.

Located in the heart of downtown Havana in a street-level mansion, the Quitrín artisan development center, conceived from the beginning as a community project to train and rescue the traditional arts of clothing, was founded by Vilma Espin who undertook great battles for the emancipation of women. It is in this place that every day in the workshop, a selection of feminist texts and literature written by women were read aloud to accompany the work of the seamstresses.

Del sonido de la labor. Uno nunca ve lo que se ha hecho sino que ve lo que queda por hacer

The encaje de bolillos (bobbin lace) is a technique of textile lace that consists of interweaving threads that are initially wrapped in bobbins to handle them better. As the work progresses, the fabric is held by pins stuck in a pad, which is called mundillo. The pounding produced by the bobbins in the weaving process creates a constant sound, rhythm, and precision. It had its climax between the 16th and 18th centuries. Keeping this tradition alive is a task of resistance as nowadays is at risk of disappearing since the mechanization of textile work, leaving artisans almost unemployed.

In this piece of process, the weaver Adriana Martínez Silva will work on a large-scale lace with the bolillo system embroidering a phrase that alludes to another type of work related to care: “The grandmother who takes care of the mother’s son who migrated to take care of the mother’s daughter who went to work, is tired.”

The piece visibilizes the process, the meticulous invoice, and it’s sound as a poetic action in construction.



El sonido de la labor PDF 09 ING AC


Three Columns