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The 13 Bienal of Havana

Updated: Nov 21, 2023


The Havana Art Biennial, the most important event of the visual arts in Cuba and the Caribbean, is finally approaching. Artists from all latitudes, and with different aesthetic positions, will meet in the Cuban capital from April 12 to May 12, 2019. On this occasion, the organizing topic of this 13th edition of the Biennial will be “The construction of the possible”. Through it, the curators propose to understand art as a space under construction, alive, an ongoing, not finalised experience. This magnificent event will flood the streets, squares, buildings and even the long wall of the Malecón with the best art. The Biennial will also be a special occasion to pay homage to Havana, as the city will be celebrating its 500th anniversary in 2019.

The Havana Biennial is undoubtedly a daring, challenging, unique proposal since its inception, unprecedented in a country like Cuba. This is the Art Biennial produced with less economic resources in the world: its budget does not exceed 150 thousand US dollars. However, this does not mean that the quality of the exhibitions and the works has been poor. Quite the contrary: rigor and talent have always distinguished curatorial discourses and artistic proposals.

The Havana Art Biennial appeared in the artistic field during the 1980s, specifically in 1984, when its first edition was held. It was precisely during this decade when the “Biennial” phenomenon gained notoriety. The postmodern spirit brought the notion of “spectacle” and “entertainment” to almost everything produced by man in cultural terms. The Biennial movement have been beneficial in terms of the circulation of works, but mainly by opening up art to new media, exhibition spaces, cultural appropriations, and desacralization of artistic practices. In 1983, the Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center had been created in Cuba, a cultural institution that since its inception had the objective of organizing and guaranteeing the celebration of the Havana Biennial. From its creation to the present, the center has held 12 biennials and has already launched the call for its 13th edition, which will take place in the former military fortress La Cabaña. While La Cabaña will function as its headquarters, many other galleries, museums and spaces public will present different artists solo or collective exhibitions.

As always, the Biennial will be a great celebration where art, culture and society will reinvent the Havana experience. It will be an extraordinary opportunity to get to know the art of different regions of the world, with an special emphasis on developing countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East. Also, it will be an unparalleled opportunity to dialogue with critics, museum directors, researchers and artists from around the world.

On this occasion, the city of Havana will dress up, especially on its historic area, which will offer many cultural actions aimed at stimulating the participation of visitors and locals. The Biennial offers a unique opportunity to discover or rediscover a lively Havana, with plenty of art everywhere: public interventions, performances, sculptures and various exhibitions. In the Biennial, that colonial and centennial 500 years old Havana shines with another light, full of art. Discover it!

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