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Yoan Capote

Abstinencia (Libertad)
[Abstinence (Freedom)]


Yoan Capote
Born in Pinar del Río, Cuba, in 1977


Abstinencia (Libertad)
[Abstinence (Freedom)]




Bronze casts, framed etching, drypoint and aquatint, 5/5


Installation of 8 casts of hands: 122 cm (approx. width); Framed print: 76.3 x 55.7 cm


Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 2018.174.1-9


International Contemporary Art

Yoan Capote is one of Cuba’s most innovative and influential artists. Abstinencia (Libertad) constitutes a poetic meditation on questions of freedom and migration at the heart of Capote’s broader practice. Made after a trip to New York City, where the Statue of Liberty is located, this work consists of bronze casts of the hands of anonymous migrant workers sequenced to spell in sign language the word “Libertad” (Liberty, decodable with the help of the accompanying print of the sign-language alphabet). As a whole, the work creates an allusion to the difficulty common people face in making their voices heard on important social issues. Capote describes the work as follows:

“In general this series is a metaphor about the absence of voice or the incapacity of decision of common people in front of different aspects of society… It is a very pessimist reflection about Liberty, because in this piece I used my hand and my frustration as a Cuban symbolically joined with the hand and frustration of migrants from other contexts and political systems… The city of New York and its famous monument to Liberty reinforce the irony of that piece, also made with the hands of people there that don’t have the minimum chance of knowing what Liberty really is.”

© Yoan Capote. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

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