Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Performance Art/Theater 2022

Carlos Martiel

A portrait of Carlos Martiel wearing a green t shirt, a golden necklace chain, small gold hoop earrings, and a gold nose ring. He has short hair and stands in front of a white background.
Photo by Fernanda Posada.
  • 2022 Grants to Artists
  • Performance Art/Theater
  • Visual and Performance Artist
  • Born 1989, Havana, Cuba
  • Lives in Brooklyn, NY
  • Additional Information

Artist Statement

My artistic practice focuses on visualizing power relations through the medium of performance. I am also interested in exploring the nature of existence, cultural traditions, and social injustices that occur inside and outside my country of origin. My work criticizes the values on which today's society is established, specifically the racist or xenophobic practices with which certain groups of immigrants and non-white minorities have been marginalized and oppressed. Building on histories across borders and cultures, I comment on social tensions while both embodying and challenging commonly perceived limits.

- December 2021


Cuban performance artist Carlos Martiel uses his physical presence to materialize embodied traumas and confront historical and ongoing harms inflicted upon the Black male body.

Martiel’s work addresses topics spanning structural racism and systemic violence against Black and immigrant bodies, criminalization of homosexuality and transsexuality, and political disfranchisement. His performance series “Monumento” centers and elevates his own nude body in a reference to traditions of monumental statuary that also underlines the vulnerability of marginalized peoples. Monumento I—presented as part of ESTAMOS BIEN: LA TRIENAL 20/21 at El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY (2021)—is an ephemeral memorial to those who have been discriminated against by Eurocentric supremacist culture; for the performance, Martiel stood naked on a pedestal, his body coated in the blood of migrant, Latinx, African-American, female, Native American, Jewish, Queer, and transgender individuals.

Martiel has performed at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (2021); The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York, NY (2021); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2019); La Tertulia Museum, Cali, Colombia (2018); and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (2017). He has presented work at international art festivals including Sharjah Biennial 14, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2019); 57th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2017); The Other Biennial, Bogotá, Colombia (2013); and The Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba (2009). He has exhibited at The Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA (2018); The São Paulo Museum of Art, São Paulo, Brazil (2017); The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, Miami, FL (2016); Zisa Zona Arti Contemporanee, Palermo, Italy (2016); The Benaki Museum of Greek Culture, Athens, Greece (2016); and National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana, Havana, Cuba, among others.

His works are in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; The Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami, FL; and Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Martiel has received several awards, including The U.S. Latinx Art Forum, Latinx Artist Fellowship (2021); a Franklin Furnace Fund Grant (2016); the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Grants & Commissions Program Award (2014); and the Arte Laguna Prize (2013).

Martiel holds a B.F.A. from the National Academy of Fine Arts “San Alejandro,” and attended Cátedra Arte de Conducta, directed by the artist Tania Bruguera.

A performance still in the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum of the back of Carlos Martiel as he stands, nude, hands bound by handcuffs behind his back.
Performance still from Monumento II, at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2021. Photo by Enid Alvarez.
A performance still of Carlos Martiel nude, standing, faced forwards on a white block in the middle of a white gallery space. From his shoulders down, his body is tinted darker with splattered, dripping blood.
Performance still from Monumento I, at El Museo del Barrio, New York, 2021. Photo by Walter Wlodarczyk.
A performance still of the back of Carlos Martiel as he lays on a wooden floor. His arms and legs are bound together, behind him, with an american flag. A script tattoo is visible on his hip.
Performance still from Fundamento, 2020. Photo by Jorge Sanchez.
A performance still of Carlos Martiel wearing all white standing in a metal cylindrical frame with numerous metal wires eminating from it, connecting from the top of the frame to the ground around it. This is set outside, a top pavement. Audience members sit on a bench directly facing Martiel and some passberys glance one. The sky above them all is bright blue and slightly cloudy.
Performance still from Caín’s blood, at the 13th Havana Biennial, Havana, 2019. Photo by Williams Cruz Perdomo.
A performance still of Carlos Martiel laying on his side on a wooden floor, nude, with an arrow piercing his stomach. His eyes are closed and his arms are up by his head.
Performance still from Trophy, at Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Milan, 2016. Photo by Annamaria La Mastra.