Cuban Art to Eat & Take Out

/ 31 August, 2015

(…) Since its early editions, but especially since 1986, the Havana Biennial organizers understood the enormous proportions of the Cuban artistic production and the importance of showing it to the audience, beyond the balance the event proposed with the art of other countries. Thus they devised a system of collateral exhibitions in the modest and incipient network of city galleries, which also included the art schools and therefore involved most of their executives and many other independent experts. (…) As time went by, the “collaterals” have achieved increasing importance within the global scheme of exhibitions which make up, under everyone’s eyes, the Havana Biennial, to the point that today they struggle to occupy central spaces. Evidence of this are the projects Zona Franca (Free Zone), in El Morro Castle and La Cabaña Fortress, and Detrás del Muro (Behind the Wall), along more than a kilometer of the famous Havana seafront, as well as the four personal exhibitions by Cuban artists that the National Museum of Fine Arts welcomes. (…)

The challenge is still on. How to offer the most valuable, risky and deep of our visual expressions without making concessions to entertainment, collecting, market, populism and cultural activism, to easy institutional practices, to the artists themselves in their eagerness for visibility and legitimation at all costs? From one year to the next, the number of artists and exhibition spaces increases. It seems the time has come of setting out a national event which would take on these indicators in their contents and form, which would take on these growing figures, which may allow fair and measured assessments, which may indicate appropriate paths and ways for the circulation and promotion of the works without curatorial pushing and shoving nor marathon temporality. And then it also seems that the time has come to organize something similar to an art fair in Cuba. With no prejudices, no fear and enough intellectual and organizational capacity. Half tones only create confusion and a feeling of unease.

Nelson Herrera Ysla

Nelson Herrera Ysla

Crítico de arte, curador, poeta. Co-fundador del Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam y de la Bienal de La Habana, donde se desempeña actualmente como curador. Ha ofrecido conferencias en numerosos países y publicado numerosos textos críticos en publicaciones especializadas de Cuba y el extranjero. Autor de varios libros de poesía y ensayos. Curador General de la XVI Bienal Paiz de Guatemala, 2008. Jurado de Ensayo del Premio Casa de las Américas, 2005, y de eventos internacionales de arte en América Latina. Premio Nacional de Crítica de Artes Guy Pérez Cisneros, 2007, y del Premio Nacional de Curaduría 2013, ambos en Cuba.

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