Alternative Havana Biennial May 5-15, 2018

From the 2015 Havana Biennial.  Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMESWe published an article by Yanelys Nunez Leyva on Wednesday about an artist’s appeal to hold an alternative Havana Biennial as the 13th edition, which had been scheduled to take place in 2018. The mega-event was suddenly postponed until 2019 because of problems with the state budget due to damages caused by Hurricane Irma. 

The organization team at the Museum of Politically Uneasy Art (MAPI) published a press announcement today about the alternative event it proposes to hold in May 2018 without official consent.

“From official to unscrupulous”

Cuban institutions have made a wrong decision and postponed the 13th Havana Biennial, which was planned to take place from October 5th until November 5th, 2018. A group of artists who defend the event as one of the Cuban people’s greatest treasures that isn’t for officials have immediately decided to hold it on their own next May.

Why don’t we agree with this suspension?

– No Cuban institution discussed this with artists involved to make a decision or to find an alternative solution.

– In such hard times like right now, holding the Biennial would be a tool against the despair and trivialization that the Cuban people find themselves in.

– If the Biennial is being postposed now because of the unfortunate damage caused by Hurricane Irma – which we are aware of and it pains us greatly – in the near future, different hardships might appear in the not too distant future (maybe even another hurricane) which could stop it from happening for an indefinite period of time.

– Tourism (a sector that has been given priority in the recovery phase which the country is currently going through) which convenes an event like the Havana Biennial, isn’t the typical festival of mulatas, cigars and rum, it’s tourism which comes to consume culture and this radiates to all sectors of our society and economy.

The Havana Biennial is national heritage. The Biennial isn’t a group of official exhibitions that are inaugurated in the country’s galleries and museums; it isn’t the combination of collateral displays. It’s the activation of independent spaces, its public interaction with the art world and its many forms; it’s the buzz that the city feels from its very core. Because of the cultural phenomenon that this is, even though the event is in crisis (a reflection of the system that rules and governs), we defend it and we hold the government responsible for holding it.

However, just like in the past, the revolutionary artist is today being asked to pick up power lines, thereby minimizing what their intellectual actions could do within society. By disagreeing with this imposition, a group of artists has proposed to organize the Biennial, which doesn’t mean to set itself out as an alternative event, or to boycott activities that have been planned since three years ago; but is trying to hold the event of their own accord which belongs to the people.

Called #00Bienal de La Habana – considering the need for a new era in the Biennial project, the national project – it will take place in independent spaces (studios, workshops), public areas which are easy to be taken over, as well as other more flexible areas in their structure such as the internet, due to the shortage of resources that the government claims to have to hold the official version of the Biennial.

With an inclusive and multidisciplinary nature, the #00Bienal de La Habana will include all the arts and will develop as usual, its theoretical side. All of these activities will take place May 5-15, 2018.

The call for artists will be launched on October 3, 2017 with the aim of letting every interested artist, curator and intellectual from the world over participate.

The organizing committee, made up of artists and intellectuals, will immediately set out on hunting down the minimum resources needed to build the event’s basic platform. However, this doesn’t mean that the project will assume production costs and the cost of transporting pieces or artist trips to Cuba. The event will be self-financed by each individual artist and with solidarity collaborations that will be established between all those involved. It is open to all cultural and fundraising ideas, which don’t go against the Biennial’s principles. It will also explore viable solutions for every project, in line with the experience of working with few materials they already have.

The #00Bienal has adopted the slogan “From official to unscrupulous” as it’s this derogatory term “unscrupulous” that organizations such as the Cuban Writers and Artists’ Union (Uneac) and the Hermanos Saiz Association have used to label this independent initiative.

Contact:  email: [email protected]   facebook: 00 Bienal de La Habana 


One thought on “Alternative Havana Biennial May 5-15, 2018

  • All it will take is for one summer Olympics to be staged in Cuba and when it leaves like it did in Sochi, the downtown will be modernized, a monorail will transport people efficiently, the water system and sewage disposal will be updated, and hundreds of modern apartments will be available.
    I hear Mexico is ‘renting’ a night in one of the earthquake apartments as a way to fund repairs. Why not stage a ‘Olympic village’ in San Juan? I would like to rent a night in the US Olympic village. I would particularly pay for a ride on the monorail from the village to the ocean front venue. Where should I send my dollars?
    Or World Expo fairs work just as well to bring in much needed improvements prior to the event!

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