Cuban Art News speaks to Juan Delgado about “Detrás del Muro”


Cuban Art News interviewed producer and curator Juan Delgado on the artists, artwork, and what’s new in this year’s edition of the open-air art exhibition “Detrás del Muro” [Behind the Wall] at the Havana Biennial.

Since its debut in the 2012 Havana Biennial, the open-air art exhibition Detrás del Muro (Behind the Wall) has been a crowd-pleasing favorite among Biennial visitors and habaneros alike. In an email interview (edited for length), Detrás del Muro curator and producer Juan Delgado talked about this year’s edition and the project’s expanding role in the Cuban art scene.

How would you characterize this edition of Detrás del Muro (Behind the Wall)? What’s new?

This year will see the beginning of a new work direction for the Detrás del Muro team: the sociocultural project dedelmu. With dedelmu, we are no longer simply presenting an intervention on the Malecón during the biennials. We’re working to promote art, and to engage in dialogue and education with respect to the community. So this edition pays more attention to the feedback between our project and the people, rather than simply inserting art in a public space. We’ll completely display what Detrás del Muro is—before, during, and after the event.

That is to say, it will be possible [for people in the community] to participate in the processes of assembling the presentation, to be involved in the actions we’ll be presenting, in the performances, the workshops—everything.

For this edition, dedelmu will be extended to new spaces near the traditional Malecón. This time we will also be sited in the Avenida de Puerto, the Prado, the Callejón de los Peluqueros, the Solar de La California, and the neighborhood of Colón. Also, our exhibition doesn’t end with the Biennial’s closing on May 12, but continues to November as part of the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of Havana.

How many artists are scheduled to participate in Detrás del Muro 3? How many Cuban artists on the island? How many Cuban artists from abroad? How many artists from other countries?

As of now, there are 71 artists from nine countries participating in the project—almost a third more than participated in the [most recent] 2015 edition. About 40 international artists are part of the edition this year, among them the Peruvian American Grimanesa Amorós; Mexicans José Dávila and Javier Marín; Frenchman Laurent Grasso; and Spaniard David Magán.

Cuban artists of the diaspora are also an essential part of our exhibition—never forgetting that the founding essence of Detrás del Muro, and its very name [Behind the Wall], are about opening doors and windows in that wall. For this edition, Nereida García, Carlos Martiel, Juan Milanés, and Emilio Pérez will participate again, and for the first time they will be joined by Aimée Joaristi and Enrique Martínez Celaya, among others.

They are about thirty Cuban artists, mostly based in the island.

Tell us about what some of the artists on the Island are doing.

We have an impressive sculpture by Roberto Fabelo—a Dantesque form that draws our attention to the problems of daily life. Pedro Pablo Oliva will do an intervention at the Hotel Terrai, with a selection of bronze sculptures and paintings.

The performance by Jorge Otero is a suggestive invitation to concerts that are fundamentally natural. Also worth noting: projects by previous Cuban National Art Award winners, including Pedro de Oráa and Eduardo Ponjuán. We’re also joined in this edition by Rachel Valdés, Duvier del Dago, and Arlés del Río. Ariamna Contino and Alex Hernández are making a site-specific work, Adrián Fernández will have an extraordinary sculptural piece, and Susana Pilar Delahante is presenting a performance. José Ángel Vincench and Leonardo L. Roque will each do a mural, and so will Pablo Rosendo. Ernesto Rancaño has a surprising installation, and Felipe Dulzaides is proposing a very accurate work. These are just a few examples. [. . .]

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