The exhibition includes twelve works made in the manner of Joseph Cornell’s boxes, but without Cornell’s surrealist tone. The handmade wooden boxes—belonging to a pre-industrial culture—incorporate objects found or purchased on the street, which the artist has mixed with fragments of engravings, caricatures, and old photos. The result is a seris of flat-screen computers for surfing a peculiar Internet. The websites refer to customs, iconic characters, and ceremonies of everyday Cuban life: the peanut-seller, stores where basic commodities are distributed, school snacks, Spanish emigrants, and the sensual mixed-race woman.
Popular Mechanics showcases a typically Cuban “portable computer,” made from a wooden suitcase holding a gas cooker and a portrait of the artist—biographical reference points well known to Cubans of his generation. Humorously demystifying “cutting-edge technology,” Abela offers a satiric but close-up view of Cuba in the 21st century.