The History of a Silence

AICA in Cuba

/ 1 March, 2017

(…) In 1952, when an Association of Critics and Researchers of Visual Arts was created, there was a well-defined field of art, an appreciable group of massive and specialized editions in which critique was regularly included, a powerful visual arts production that had been exhibited in 1944 in the MoMA, a critical and artistic legacy which counted with half a century of experience, and fifteen recognized signatures in Havana that spoke from different supports about artistic productions.

(…) In El País newspaper of December 1952, and under the title of Propósitos (Purposes), it is explained what AICA is, and which countries already belonged to the organization. (…) The article also mentions some personalities integrating the AICA in those moments: Lionello Venturi, Romero Brest, Herbert Read, Jean Cassou, Crespo de la Serna, Johnson Sweaney, Seigfried Giedon, Gómez Sicre, among others. Immediately after, it is exposed that AICA organized an annual event which emphasized the expositive initiatives that were being projected taking into account the country in which it will be celebrated―thus, in the Congress of Holland an exhibition of De Stijl was made. At last, the article began to explain the aspects discussed in the meeting of Amsterdam: the rights of the artists, the improvement of the work of the members and the risks the works of art ran in their transfer to one place to another and the impossibility of replacing the losses.

One of the significant aspects is that the Cuban Section of AICA that had been just made up intended to organize exhibitions of interest for the dissemination of art. Also, the new Association expressed the need to group all Cuban art critics who made their periodical job, the press and the professors of History of Art in all schools and universities of visual arts. The Cuban Section also called to unity with the purpose of doing a joint work for opening private and public galleries. And it was also proposed to increase collectors, in particular those of Cuban art, also that the big stores would have their own gallery spaces, that the social buildings and clubs would commission paintings and murals to the artists―to hang or exhibit on the walls―, and that the creators would be protected by the state. And what is more important: that the artists would recognize themselves as cardinal figures of our culture. It was understood that if the Association reached those goals it would have accomplished its mission and Cuba could be comparable with equal hierarchies next to the most cultured nations in the world.

(…) Everything indicates that the Association dissolved in August 1956. (…) We know that many of the utopias considered by the Association could not achieve to crystalize: lines of action, projects, speeches that could only be carried out when this Association was again inscribed in the Island in 1986, thirty years later, under the direction of Dr. Adelaida de Juan.

In the meeting of 1985 in Caracas, Dr. Adelaida was convoked to retake in the Island the Cuban chapter of AICA. One of the significant actions of the new Cuban Association, to my judgment, was the instauration of the awards of art criticism and curatorship, since it was the first time that tribute was rendered to that professional task. She even has explained how the term curatorship was not socialized until then and she was interviewed to reveal what was “curating”. The Cuban chapter of AICA ceased in the last decade of the past century because of economic reasons, but an effort was made to maintain some achievements under different formats, as the prizes.

After so many avatars, the Cuban chapter is again inscribed for a third time: 1952-1956, 1986-1990, 2016-. Cuban “philosophy” is settled in two pillars: the bolero and the popular proverbs, and there is a proverb that defines this effort: “third time lucky”, so now AICA is here to stay.

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  • Editor in Chief / Publisher

    HUGO CANCIO

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    ARIEL MACHADO

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    LLILIAN LLANES

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    MARÍA TERESA ORTEGA

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    YAMILÉ TABÍO

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