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      Press Release

      PEM’s Present Tense Initiative Presents Monumental Sculpture by Contemporary Cuban Artist

      Released August 29, 2017

      PEM Acquires Yoan Capote’s Immanence

      On view September 2 through November 19, 2017

      SALEM, MA – The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) presents a singular, striking work by one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary Cuban art. This monumental steel sculpture depicts Fidel Castro, the dictator who dominated Cuban life and culture from the 1959 Revolution until his death in 2016. Immanence negotiates the conventions of monumental sculpture and representations of power in ways that are particularly relevant to contemporary political discourse in the United States.

      Upon first encounter, the sculpture is physically imposing and, at 10-feet tall, diminishes the viewer. Look closer, and your perception of Immanence changes, as the portrait of the Cuban leader becomes a collective image of Cuban citizens. The artist welded this sculpture from thousands of rusted door hinges acquired through trade with friends and acquaintances in Havana, exchanging new hinges to replace the old. The hinges speak to the impact of the U.S. embargo and a state-run economy on Cuba’s magnificent but crumbling architectural heritage and suggest the social and political forces that have exerted control over Cuba’s people for more than half a century.

      At 40 years old, internationally acclaimed artist Yoan Capote invites us to explore our relationship to power. Based in Havana, Capote’s conceptually layered works in sculpture, painting, installation, photography, and video create visual poetry linking inanimate objects to the intangible world of the mind. Immanence, one of Capote’s most important works to date, was recently acquired by PEM's Present Tense Initiative and will be on view in PEM’s iconic East India Marine Hall from September 2 through November 19, 2017.

      “PEM’s Present Tense Initiative engages leading creative agents of our time to cultivate innovative experiences inspired by the intersection of cultures, disciplines, and technologies,” says Trevor Smith, PEM’s Curator of the Present Tense. “Capote’s Immanence re-enlivens traditional monumental sculpture through unexpected modes of construction and collaboration, raising questions around the source of political authority and how societally we reflect this in our artwork. Immanence, which resonates so deeply with PEM’s institutional DNA and Present Tense Initiative, finds a fitting home here.”

      Immanence, 2015. Mixed media including hinges, wood doors, metal armature. 120 x 180 x 180 inches (10 x 15 x 15 feet) ©Yoan Capote. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Museum Purchase, 2017.

      Museum purchase with funds donated by Dick and Deborah Carlson, Mark and Meg DuFour, Jim and Mary Lou Hawkes, Andrew and Erin Heiskell, Kate and Ford O'Neil, Olivia Parker, Abby and Gene Record, Katharine Redmond, Molly and Patrick Ryan, and Christina and Ralph Sweetland.

      Share your impressions on social media, using #Immanence

      Capote’s sculpture, installations and works on paper have been exhibited around the world. He was a 2006 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship winner and is currently a Professor of Visual Art at the Higher Institute of Art (ISA) in Havana, Cuba.

      Under the guidance of curator Trevor Smith, the Present Tense Initiative celebrates the central role that creative expression plays in shaping our world. The Present Tense Initiative engages leading creative agents and thinkers to cultivate innovative experiences fueled by the intersection of cultures, disciplines and technologies. By encouraging innovation and fostering new forms of creativity, PEM seeks to push the boundaries of what a museum experience can be.

      Over the last 20 years, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has distinguished itself as one of the fastest-growing art museums in North America. Founded in 1799, it is also the country’s oldest continuously operating museum. At its heart is a mission to enrich and transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections, integrate past and present and underscore the vital importance of creative expression. The museum's collection is among the finest of its kind boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time -- including American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, Native American, Oceanic and African art. PEM's campus affords a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities and performance spaces. Twenty-four noted historic structures grace PEM’s campus, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house that is the only such example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States, and the Phillips Library, which holds one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts. HOURS: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-5 pm. Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. ADMISSION: Adults $20; seniors $18; students $12. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $6 (plus museum admission). Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang. INFO: Call 866-745-1876 or visit

      Media Relations Contacts:
      Whitney Van Dyke | Director of Communications | | 978-542-1828
      Melissa Woods | Communications Specialist | | 978.542.1609