Los Carpinteros


During the 1980´s, in part as a reaction to the Republican administration of Ronald Reagan, the Cuban government proclaimed “La Guerra de todo el pueblo” (the war of the whole people). As part of this national defense strategy, it ordained that the people should build tunnels throughout the country for evacuation of the population in the event of a war. Even though there was not a real declaration of war against Cuba, this strategy created a psychological disposition toward war. These spaces have never been used for evacuation and remain anachronistic structures in the center of cities.

The photo series Tuneles Populares (The people´s tunnels), 1999, consist of ten large-scale photographs that document this very particular Project in Cuban history, taken by Los Carpinteros in 1999. The tunnels were the biggest construction project realized in Cuba in that decade, and they changed the appearance of the urban and architectonic environment in a drastic way. They also affected individual living space by transforming public life into “life in trenches”, facing a time of imaginary yet very present war. The unused tunnels remain as interventions into societal fabric, not only creating a sense of community in and through war but also developing very specific “faces” and “personalities”.

Los Carpinteros: Handwork - Constructing the World. Edited by Gudrun Ankele and Daniela Zyman Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln. 2010. p. 318


The collective Los Carpinteros (The Carpenters) has consolidated an artistic work that has made them one of the most relevant international figures emerged from Cuba in the last decade of the 20th century. Graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana, they formed the collective in 1991. The duo, consisting of Marco Castillo and Dagoberto Rodríguez, adopted their name in 1994 (Alexandre Arrechea was also part of the group until his departure in 2003). Their pieces are part of the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art • The Museum of Modern Art, New York • Guggenheim Museum, New York • Indianapolis Museum of Art • Tate Modern, London • Museo de Bellas Artes, Havana • Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid • Thyssen-Bornemisza Contemporary Art Foundation, Vienna • Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo, Badajoz, Spain, etc. They have participated in exhibitions at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, New Museum (U.S), P.S.1, Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum, Art in General, Artists Space and Arizona State University in U.S. Also in Es baluard Museu d’ Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma, Spain • Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Cuba • Hayward Gallery, UK • Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Brazil • Irish Museum of Modern Art, Ireland • Helsinki Art Museum, Finland • Landesmuseum Joanneum, Austria. Los Carpinteros are currently represented by Sean Kelly Gallery in New York, Galeria Fortes Vilaca in Sao Paulo, Ivorypress Art and Books in Madrid, Galerie Peter Kilchmann in Zürich, and Galería Habana in Havana.