by Joel Paneque Romero, Sunday June 26th, 2016
The Havana Biennial has been one of the most significant cultural events in the history of Cuba. For more than three decades it has brought together the best of the visual arts of the island and the world. After the creation in 1983 of the Wifredo Lam Center of Contemporary Art, his management team undertook the mission to convene every two years to the most outstanding visual artists from different regions, with particular emphasis on third world countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
The First Biennial of Havana took place in May-June 1984. It was attended by about 820 artists with over 1900 works. Several recognitions and awards were given as the great prize to Arnold Belkin of Mexico.
A well selected team of curators is responsible for selecting the works that will participate in this event. The program is not limited to exhibitions but includes interventions in communities, happenings, performances and video projections. During those days, in support of the Biennial, it is performed throughout the country an intense schedule of theatrical, musical and dance performances.
Havana in these days is preparing to receive thousands of artists from different places. In recent times there have been some problems with accommodation capacities in hotels. We recommend looking for private accommodation in websites like Travel.Thecubanhouses.com. The houses for rent generally are cheaper and there are excellent proposals of comfort, privacy and spaciousness to do the work of organization that require certain visual works.
The biennial could be a little more inclusive event. It is true that it is encouraging gaze to Third World countries but not having the best of world art would ultimately be counterproductive because it would deprive artists and other people in general look to contemporary art. If the event attracts the best and most varied of other artists outside the third world realities, feedback in both directions propitiate a higher exchange at all levels: artistic, cultural, social, political and commercial. In recent editions, the event organizers have tried to insert filmmakers and artists from dissimilar places but are still insufficient.
It would also be desirable to be extended to other Cuban provinces in a more successful way. The fact that is held in Havana should not be cause for artists from around the country do not get contaminated by that wonderful virus that causes the desire, craving to perform a gifted art of a superior spirituality. An art with the aim of spreading, diffuse and settle that passion to all our people.