Cuban Refugee's Cropduster To Become Art Project
You can't fly it. The FAA hasn't certified it, so it's little
more than a ground-bound conversation piece. So what do you do with
an Antonov AN-2 (file photos of type, below)?
Turn it into art.
The AN-2 "Colt" was once used as a cropduster in Cuba. In 2002,
eight Cubans flew it to South Florida in their own bid for freedom.
Later, it was seized by the US government and turned over to the
ex-wife of a Cuban intelligence officer as part of the judgement in
a $27-million lawsuit against Cuba and Communist leader Fidel
But the aircraft failed to sell at auction. So Ana Margarita
Martinez sold it to her lawyer, Scott Leeds, who transported it to
a hangar in Key West. And there it's sat ever since.
With no prospect of flying the Colt in the US and no big-money
buyers, Leeds didn't know what to do with it. That is, until he
started talking with Miami-based artist Xavier Cortada.
"As an artist, my job is to look at my world and express it for
others to see," Cortada said. "But with this project, I thought,
'Maybe it's not just my expression that is important here. Maybe
it's their expression that is of utmost value.'"
So a couple of volunteers disassembled the AN-2 and took it to a
hangar in Coconut Grove, where they put it back together again and
turned it over to Cortada.
His vision is to create the Cuban Monument of Freedom. In a
statement to ANN, Leeds said, "This event is special for a more
intimate reason. The work of art will include the personal
experiences of the Cuban exile community which shall be solicited
through radio and television, where each luggage will contain their
individual responses to the following questions: 'What did you
leave?' and, 'What did you find when you arrived?' Each entry will
be placed in the luggage corresponding the year the individual
arrived to the United States of America to begin their celebration
of freedom. These entries, the voices of an entire community's
struggle for democracy and human rights, I hope will ultimately
reside as a collective work of art at the Smithsonian
Cortada plans to paint the aircraft with open mouths --
symbolizing a lack of freedom of speech in his homeland. He wants
to surround it with 45 trunks, numbered 1959 throughout 2004, to
mark every year of Castro's regime.
"We didn't want it to just fall idle or go quietly into the
night," Leeds said. "We really wanted it to be a living monument to