Utopia is rather a matter of the future

XLIX AICA Congress, Havana

/ 25 November, 2016

October 13 (…) the symposium Nuevas Utopías: Arte, memoria y contextos (New Utopias: Art, memory and contexts) was inaugurated in Havana. With this event, the academic reflections of the xlix Congress of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) opened, developing in the island (from October 11 to 15, 2016) as part of a process of reinsertion in the Cuban chapter of the global organization.[1]

It then seemed that October 13 was a day of reunions, of “re-discoveries”. Marek Bartelik, president of International AICA, would say: “this will be a historical event, not only for AICA, but for the international community of art, in a general sense, above all because it is held in moments in which Cuba expands its cultural and artistic interchange with the rest of the world.” (…)

Anyway, it was the notion of the “re-discovery” that marked the conception of this congress. Presentations as Carnaval o el triunfo del tambor utópico (Carnival or the triumph of the utopic drum) by Tonel, Descolonizar el Museo: ¿la Utopía? (Decolonize the Museum: Utopia?), by Cristina Freire, or Memorias insulares e imaginarios visuales para pensar el Caribe en el espacio global (Insular and visual imaginaries to think the Caribbean in the global space) by Yolanda Wood, answered to a demonstrative, explicative logic, insistent above all in the past, shaping them as contextual stories where memory became the central axis.

The forthcoming notion (thinking on possible future scenes), nevertheless, was blurred. This incarnated a paradox, as utopia, also chosen as discursive line, although from a bygone event (the creation, 500 years ago, of Utopia by Thomas Moro), rather points to one future situation, still unattainable because of unfeasible. In this direction, the presentation by Damian Smith was an incentive to move forward his project Interchange: a conversation between two trains thought for the 13th edition of the Havana Biennial. (…)

Apart from this proposition around a different operation, topics of present validity as the incidence of technology in art, the art-science intertwining, the position of the art critic before these global problems, and so on…, and how can they be assumed for the reconsideration of our processes, were left in the margin, at least from the format of conferences.

As a result, the AICA congress in Cuba became an actualization space (which also covered visits to exhibitions of the gallery circuit in the city), but for those who came and not for those who, since being here on the side, waited for information, confrontation with new analysis, new paradigms. I would like to believe that the presentation of local experiences, in which the Panel Bienal de La Habana: pasado, presente y futuro (Havana Biennial Panel: past, present and future)[2] was particularly extensive and necessary for our correct   relocation  in the international dialogue. So, I would understand that I was not witnessing another form of colonialism, in this occasion in a great self-imposed measure.


[1] The section AICA-Cuba, founded in 1986, has been reestablished in 2014 after two decades of inactivity.

[2] This panel discussion was organized by the Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center and took place in the morning of Friday October 14.

Marilyn Payrol

Marilyn Payrol

(Santa Clara, 1990). Graduate of Art History at the University of Havana. Professor of Theory and Criticism at the University of the Arts (ISA). She is the editor of the website of Art OnCuba magazine. Their texts are available Artecubano News and Art OnCuba website.

Related Post



  • Editor in Chief / Publisher

  • Executive Director

  • Executive Managing Editor

  • Art Director

  • Editorial Director / Editor

  • Design & Layout

  • Translation and English copyediting

  • Spanish copyediting

  • Commercial director & Public Relations / Cuba

  • Web Editor


Art OnCuba Newsletter

* This field is required