Chelsea Galleries to Havana, Cuba

HAVANA TIMES, March 24 – Have things gotten so bad that Chelsea contemporary galleries are going socialist? Not really, but some of the most powerful galleries in the storied New York art district are pooling their cultural power to send a special exhibition to Cuba at the end of the month to promote “cross-cultural ties through visual means.”

The initiative, dubbed “Chelsea Visits Havana,” is organized by Alberto Magnan and Dara Metz, both connected to Chelsea outpost Magnan Projects. It touches down at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in the Cuban capital, Mar. 28-May 17, 2009, timed to debut alongside the Havana Biennial, Mar. 27-Apr. 30, 2009.

Skimming the crème from some of the most important New York galleries makes for what looks to be a museum-quality show of 33 artists, divided into three thematic sections: “Fantasy vs. Reality,” “Control vs. Chaos” and “History vs. Present.” The selection of artists is meant to represent the “diversity of New York’s melting pot.”

Stars of “Chelsea Visits Havana” include masters of schizoid capitalist esthetics like Matthew Barney (courtesy Barbara Gladstone) and Tony Oursler (courtesy Lehmann Maupin). The exhibition also puts the spotlight on exemplars of postmodern painting practice like Will Cotton (courtesy Mary Boone) and Walton Ford (courtesy Paul Kasmin), and important figures in contemporary photography like Edward Burtynsky (courtesy Charles Cowles) and Nan Goldin (courtesy Matthew Marks).

Also on view are more eccentric figures like Duke Riley, the hipster artist known for building a homemade submarine and getting arrested as a terrorist in New York harbor (he shows at Magnan), and geographer-cum-conceptual artist Trevor Paglen, whose most recent show of photos track spy satellites (courtesy Bellwether).

The complete list of artists featured in the show includes Marina Abramovic (Sean Kelly), Alejandro Almanza Pereda (Magnan), Assume Vivid Astro Focus (John Connelly Presents), Radcliffe Bailey and Carlos Vega (Jack Shainman), Guy Ben-Ner (Postmasters), Matthew Benedict (Alexander and Bonin), Long-Bin Chen (Frederieke Taylor), Delia Brown (D’Amelio Terras), Jules de Balincourt (Zach Feuer), Christoph Draeger (Freight + Volume), Dinh Q. Le (PPOW), Loretta Lux (Yossi Milo), Nicky Nodjoumi and Jade Townsend (Priska C. Juschka Fine Art), Jack Pierson (Cheim & Read), Matthew Ritchie & James Case Leal (Andrea Rosen), Tim Rollins and K.O.S. (Lehmann Maupin), Andrew Schoultz (Morgan Lehman), Devorah Sperber (Caren Golden), Brian Tolle (CRG), Michael Waugh (Schroeder Romero) and Doug Young (Roebling Hall).

In addition, an installation from Jonathan Schipper makes the trip to “Chelsea Visits Havana,” from Brooklyn-based powerhouse Pierogi 2000 — proving the exhibition’s mission is bigger than one neighborhood — while a special commission by Irish-born artist Padraig Tarrant is from Fundación Amistad, the organization dedicated to Cuba-U.S. exchange that is providing most of the funding for the endeavor (according to the foundation’s website, the ambitious show is being executed for a jaw-droppingly modest total of $30,000).

This article was reprinted with permission from Art News: