Many thanks to Aica Caraïbe du Sud (Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art) for sharing the statement by the curatorial staff of the 13th Biennial of Havana [XIII Bienal de La Habana] at the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam. This year the biennial takes place from April 12 to May 12, 2019, in Havana, Cuba.
THE HAVANA BIENNIAL, well-known as one of the most outstanding and important art events in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the world, has provided visibility not only to the Cuban contemporary thought and art practices, but to those of the Global South and other regions. Since it was first launched in 1984, the Biennial has been as platform in favor of justice and equality; has encouraged and supported socio-cultural projects and theoretical reflection; has fostered he transforming role of visual arts in a polarized, culturally segregated world dominated by the supremacy of the market. The Biennial aims at continuing the projections of its founding principles taking into account the situation and conditions prevailing in a world of intensified nuclear, militarist aggressive threats, xenophobia, racism, forced migrations, fascist trends, violence against anyone different, ethnic cultural conflicts, inequality, terrorism, systematic use of lies and an environmental crisis which endangers the mere existence of the human species. Such crisis affects everyone, but it particularly affects Caribbean island states. The cult to consumption and an irresponsible waste of natural resources calls us to mobilize all sectors of the population to preserve the balance between society-culture-nature. Science has understood the need to systematically address this issue in a multidisciplinary manner and Art is not foreign to this. With the persistence of military, economic, political and cultural hegemonies new models of life are structured aimed at designing new emancipation projects and at dignifying the life of human beings in the midst of so many contradictions: namely reclaiming community life; the struggle for preserving memory; the validation of other knowledge and systems of knowledge; the search for greater correspondences between the creation of life and its practices; or the establishment of points of convergence, nodes and networks to, in turn, create spaces for future models of understanding and solidarity among human beings.
The 13th Biennial of Havana, to be held on April 12 to May 12, 2019, aims at encouraging interaction between creators, curators, experts and institutions in a wide range of works that would contribute to alternatives for sustainability without disregarding the propositional nature every art work or project contains in itself. Art would point to new collective reasoning that would provide, departing from a confrontation between various creative and circulation models, a greater approach and exchange between audiences, places, and levels of experience. These practices, though focused on the present, would hint notions of the future which, at least at the poetic or symbolic levels would address some of the needs for social transformation.
Could the artistic imply a new social dimension and become a model for the encounter with new structures of sustainability? How inspiring can emerging practices of survival, emancipation and social development be and how can they generate new artistic narratives and methodologies? What types of relationships can be established between curators, artists, projects, groups, and emerging practices, national and international institutions or even between various circulating art schemes?
The 13th Havana Biennial would be a space for those artistic typologies understanding creation as a living event or undergoing experience; strategies would result in multiple convergences or would promote the existence of exchange networks beyond the aesthetic autonomy and the traditional notion of authorship, with a transforming nature acknowledging diversity at the same time. It would likewise encourage and promote the creation of new and symbolic social relations generated by several manners of interaction with art including the idea of a transversally and multidisciplinary culture.
This coming Biennial aims at creating networks to establish new ways of coexistence and respect. International Biennales so far almost alien from one another, would meet here in a close harmonizing dialogue; artists, artists-managers will become one, the possible unit; development projects and initiatives will contribute to local community interests. Emerging curators and mediators will join the more experienced to set the difference from established circulation mechanisms common in Biennales.
Therefore, Art would play its permanent transforming role and would accordingly maintain the energy necessary to contribute to human wellbeing in the midst of any situation. Havana will once again have its most important art event and opens, from now, a platform for exchange and analysis of the ideas that will shape the Biennial.