Turning waste into art, that is the passion of Grethell Rasúa, a young Cuban artist who offers a very peculiar service: she makes articles to wear or use at hose with body waste or liquids of her clients.
She combines excrement, tears, blood, urine, semen, earwax, hair, saliva, with silver, gold, plastic, pearls, fabrics, resin, among other materials, to create jewels, clothes or decorative objects for the home.
“With all the pleasure of the world” is the title of this line of work she has been following since 2004, which was her graduation thesis from San Alejandro art school. “It is the result of a research I made related with aesthetics, the repulsive, what is culturally beautiful, what is aesthetically correct or not. I try to erase those limits, those culturally conceived categories of what is beautiful and what is not”, explains Rasúa.
The Pabellón Cuba has been the venue of her exhibition twice this year: during the 11th Havana Biennial and in the first summer month of Arte en La Rampa. Grimaces, surprised eyes, exclamations and photos abounded, while Grethell answered hundreds of questions daily. People were always interested when they visited her stand, where they received information on what can be done with body waste as raw material, combining color, texture and form.
“The objects that result from my work are totally functional, useful, and somehow conserve something special about a person, some memory; they are a sort of fetish” – says the artist. “They are generally handicrafts: rings, earrings, necklaces, bags and objects to decorate the home, not just the body. The purpose is that each one of those objects represent the idea of beauty of each individual, resulting from his/her own taste, the own reference of what is beautiful or not”.
To Grethell, all the orders are unexpected because they are unique pieces, where each person is somehow going to be represented. Many times it will recall a special moment of their lives. “All the orders are a challenge”, she assures. “For instance, engagement rings that in some cases have been made with gold, blood and semen. In the woman’s ring there is semen from the man, and in his ring there is blood from her menstruation. The waste is understood here from a different point of view. The ring design was chosen by both and has to do with the life and history of that couple. The orders are always surprising; each imagery is unique, with its world and its history”.
Grethell is interested in developing her art within the Cuban context, with all the poetry that may be involved in that game between beautiful and repulsive, but with very concrete evidence of things that happen. “They are works that a sociologist or an anthropologist may use as reference to study the human being; tastes and likings that combine with that functional aesthetic sense, particularly of human behavior. And they also define a period, an image”, she indicates.
To continue developing this line of work is the artist’s purpose, since in her opinion, this sort of collection will keep on growing with time.