Cuba at Venice Biennale

A true explosion of artists

/ 1 September, 2017

2017 is an important year for Cuban Art at the Venice Biennale. Sixty-five years have elapsed since Cuba fist took part in this prestigious International Exhibition, which represents an open window on contemporary art since 1895, gathering together artists from different nations and generations. It is a great chance to exhibit and share in an atmosphere of humanity and universal brotherhood devoid of prejudices, boundaries or ideological barriers. This exhibition, among the oldest in the world, set the first stone (…) highlighted the way towards a new model of promotion and international circulation of art, and others followed it. Many events tried to overturn it, or create an alternative to the model established in Venice, like the Havana Biennial, which has taken place since 1984.

The title of the 57th edition is Viva Arte Viva, there are 86 national participations and 120 individual artists. This year Cuba presents Time of Intuition and a large delegation, 14 artists are present, celebrating the anniversary of the fist participation: it was in 1952 when Cuba presented 14 artists, the very avant-garde at that time composed of great exponents of various orientations and lines.

The selection of this year, coordinated by the curator José Manuel Noceda and led by Jorge Fernández Torres, commissioner of the exhibition and director of the National Museum of Fine Arts of Cuba, is composed largely of young artists, who already enjoy a considerable recognition worldwide.

(…) Certainly Cuba was able to speak of itself in Venice this year, by showing an exhibition that only in few weeks set a record as regards visitors. The Cuban pavilion is set in the ancient and prestigious Loredan Palace, headquarters of the Veneto Institute of Sciences, Arts and Literature since 1838, located in the very central area of the Italian city, just a few steps away from the San Marco Square. Covering both of the two floors of the building, the exhibition is conceived to start at the outdoor square with Esterio Segura’s work. (…). The other artists selected for the 57th edition are Abel Barroso, Iván Capote, J. Roberto Diago, Roberto Fabelo, José Manuel Fors, Aimée García, Reynier Leyva Novo, René Peña, Wilfredo Prieto, Mabel Poblet, Carlos Martiel, Meira Marrero & José Ángel Toirac, José E. Yaque.

(…) Noceda explained how his straightforward work took into account some of the ideas of the general curator of the Biennale, Christine Macel. “In her theoretical document she refers to the circumstances that our world is undergoing, all the episodes of crisis and conflict affecting our everyday life. She speaks about the need to recover the role of art and of the artist within society, about the urgency to rescue humanism, which has been lost throughout all these decades.” Contextualizing the project on Cuban reality and keeping in mind Macel’s curatorial ideas, Noceda found inspiration in the concept of time as expressed by the Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier (1904-1980), initiator of the Latin American concept of magical realism. Carpentier said that in the Caribbean and in Cuba three time realities coexist simultaneously: the past, or time of memory, the present, time of intuition or vision, and the future, or time of waiting. Present is the chosen one, the Time of Intuition, (…) The 14 interpreters of the Caribbean island daily life, through intimate or satirical routes, with performances, photos or installations, deal with topics ranging from the de-construction of the past and history, to chronicle today; ranging from social, racial and gender issues, to themes of faith and spirituality. They are peculiar and independent authors, who propose diffrent visions of the issues of their world in which the context, and the commitment to it, are the keys to reconsider reality. (…)

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