HAVANA, April 13th – More than foreign 300 artists, including Americans, will participate in Havana’s 13th Biennial, the internationally recognized month-long art festival that kick’s off April 12.
“Havana’s Bienal is unique,” said Wilfredo Lam Center Assistant Director Margarita Gonzalez Lorente.
“It’s an event that promotes international dialogue,” said Bienal Executive Director Jorge Alfonso Garcia.
At the festival, expect works of art with themes of migration, ecology and human relations in a wide range of mediums: installations, sculptures, paintings and photography.
“We have the top Cuban artists participating in our Bienal from diverse generations,” Gonzalez Lorente said.
Inevitably, during the press conference, the issue of the recent controversial arts law, Decree 349, came up. The organizers were asked what role that may have played in inviting participating artists.
“There is no way we can think those invitations have anything to do with the artists’ political beliefs,” Rodriguez Derivet said.
The law, which received significant blowback from artists, says artists cannot provide their services in public spaces without prior government approval.
It allows inspectors to review and shut down events they deem objectionable.
In the past, Cuba’s culture vice minister said there had not been enough explanation of the law and what it truly tried to accomplish.
Cuban authorities have said the law aims to prevent tax evasion and the spread of bad art that includes vulgarity, sexist language and unjustified use of violence.
Some artists, both government sanctioned and independent, believe this is simply an effort to silence them.
International Artists, including Americans to participate
In a project planned for the Matanzas province, organizers say 35 Ohio-based artists and 43 curators will participate.
Foreign artists will be representing 52 countries with 12 collective projects including “Detrás del Muro” [Behind the Wall], a display of installations, murals and sculptures along Havana’s famed seaside Malecón.
“The idea is to turn daily life into art,” said Detrás del Muro General Director Juanito Delgado Calzadilla. “Art transforms societies…and the interaction with the public is what is important.”
Delgado Calzadilla said to expect participation from more artists including Cuban-American artists Nereida Garcia and Enrique Martinez Zelaya, a first-time visiting Cuba.
I’m interested in society becoming involved in the art, he added.
This year’s Bienal, which was originally supposed to take place in 2017, was twice postponed because of Hurricane Irma.
This year’s festivities are dedicated to Havana’s 500th anniversary of its founding, but events will extend outside the capital city into the provinces of Pinar del Río, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Camagüey and Sancti Spiritus.