Approximations to the Havana Biennial

/ 1 December, 2018

With the purpose of placing in the academic debate and projecting for the artistic community the contributions of the Havana Biennial, at first in the Brazilian sphere, I coordinated the investigation whose results allowed me to recently obtain my Doctorate.

The thesis, defended in September 2018 in the Institute of Arts of the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), in Sao Paulo, Brazil, had as object of study the tensions created between the works of art and the architectural spaces, in what became one of the greatest challenges faced by the Cuban event in its first editions (…). For the development of the thesis, the transgressive characteristics of contemporary art were taken into account, since they allow for dealing, disobediently and from a critical point of view, with the different expressions that characterize the artistic system, especially those of the 20th and 21st centuries. (…)

The characteristics of the Havana Biennial, such as the recognition and insertion on an international scale of the Third World artistic creation, the method of investigation established in the organization of the aforementioned editions, their democratic character, just to cite some of their contributions, had been aspects already dealt with by me in a general way in Matices de la Bienal de La Habana, the thesis with which I defended the Master’s in the Faculty of Santa Marcelina, in 2010.

Said investigation allowed me at the time to analyze the relations existing between the artistic agents and their potentials, particularly those that take place between the researcher, work of art, artist, creator, spectator and the architectural spaces, facilitating the path for the introduction of those subjects in Brazil’s university teaching of art.

The investigation, which became the point of departure for the present thesis, was specifically directed at the analysis of the connections between the architectural spaces, museology, the artists, the works of art and their reception in the Havana Biennial, not leaving out the consideration that the placing of a work of art in a certain architectural space questions the role of the narrative structure and makes it possible to enhance the interpretations regarding the relations between the work and the space, when coordinating on different levels the aesthetic event and corroborating that the physical space is not neutral, that it organizes and deconstructs narratives.

(…) Undoubtedly, the most relevant result of this investigation has been, and the academic examining board considered it that way, having brought to light what in its time was one of the Havana Biennial’s greatest contributions, namely, the relation it was able to establish between the most dissimilar works of art and the unconventional spaces used, turned into the fundamental venues of the event during the editions corresponding to the last decades of the 20th century.

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