The new free airs of Havana

/ 14 September, 2015

Wilfredo Prieto opened at the 12th Biennial of Havana the exhibition curated by him in the former bicycle factory, just a few hundred meters from the tunnel of Línea Street and the Iron Bridge . The elements exposed for the occasion projected a structure free from access and tour of the participants, alien to the usual in galleries and museums, by subjecting them to the experience of discovering where the exhibited elements could be overlapped, well hidden in the intentions of what could hardly be considered works of art, spread throughout the vast territory of this forgotten urban space. Detecting, discovering these minimal gestures, alien to the refined artistic elaborations, was the curatorial task offered to the participants, whom, with playful sense, should trace their personal paths with the satisfaction of being able to meet friends and get arranged in groups to participate in this search; a less dusty way of approaching art, of experiencing other sensations. All this in the midst of a city seemingly exhausted in its possibilities to exercise new cultural attractions outside the hallowed halls of art.

Maybe his creator did not notice that his curatorial gesture allowed to make other assessments, even beyond those of his purpose of stimulating disturbing or even burlesque desires and meta-theoretical and practical needs of contemporary art, by opening to experiences where what is displayed is mere pretext to put the audience in a position to become active agents of an exhibition. By contemplating the participation of each and experiencing my own, I could sense a new way of revealing the genuine that can be to project something as simple in its form. It was used to promote, and to me this is very transcendent—an outdoor redesigned space for educated social gathering.

Suddenly, it made me evoke and experientially rethink of images of nineteenth-century engravings by Federico Miahle, which showed 200 years ago the ways in which people openly enjoyed the free air spaces in Isabel 2nd and Tacon boulevards, getting away from the dull and suffocating urban environments of the city aged behind the wall. Joy, enthusiasm and satisfaction of Havana people in those ancient paintings were back there, recovered, making me feel how the cultural past is a source of unexpected lessons for the present.

With his mediation, Havana resurfaced today amid a despised space of Vedado neighbourhood in that imposing and symbolic greyish and roofless ruin, expression of the needs of this city and the willingness of its to spontaneously open up to other physical and cultural airs. Not only potentially in recovered spaces, but also under the essential constructive accent that the radical remodelling of the capital must necessarily achieve in the coming decades with the creation of new places of social expansion. Through daring designs of environments it will achieve openness to a more modern world, away from its previous enclosure, with the consciousness of being something natural, vital and conducive to the welfare and spiritual health of its inhabitants, as it was also a source of admiration in the nineteenth by them and the visitors from around the world.


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