A Conversation with Holly Block

Approaching Cuba

/ 2 September, 2015

It was the year 1999 when I first met Holly Block. I had just started working at the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba, in Havana —a meeting point for an ever-growing group of Americans interested in the arts that were able to travel to Cuba with a special permission, after President Bill Clinton’s initiatives with the Island. (…)

Mrs. Block was a rare, free electron. Not only would she spend longer periods of time at a casa particular in Havana, but she seemed to know everyone within the art scene. She appeared at openings and spent some time revising Cuban art archives, all while struggling with her Spanish. Very soon thereafter I would learn that she published Art Cuba: The New Generation (2001), a book that maps the contemporary art scene on the island, regarding the 90s, now an obligatory reference for this area of study. On the verge of another turning point in the relationship between both countries we met again. This time it was in New York, at the Bronx Museum of the Arts (BxMA), where she has been Executive Director since 2006. She kindly accepted answering a few questions about an even greater accomplishment in her long-lasting affair with Cuba: a collaboration between BxMA and the National Museum of Fine Arts (MNBA). The project, Wild Noise: Artwork from The Bronx Museum of the Arts and El Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, brought back the hope for a two-way exchange between the best of American and Cuban cultures. I also took advantage of this opportunity to learn more about Mrs. Block’s perspective on the contemporary art scene on the Island, and the 12th Havana Biennial, which was concurrent with Wild Noise. (…)

 

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