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Third Havana Biennial

Exhibition
La Tercera Bienal de la Habana de 1989

Image> La Tercera Bienal de la Habana de 1989, photograph of the exhibition.

1989 was a momentous year. The world was turning towards a new horizon that was still difficult to comprehend, where the barriers formed after World War II were blurring to give way to the greatest era of economic expansion in our recent history. The rapid growth of the late 1980s—with the extraordinary development of most European democracies, the consolidation of the U.S. market and the beginning of Asian openness — was marked to a certain extent by the change of speed in the development of socialist regimes dependent on or close to the Soviet Union. This is the case of Cuba and the socialist regime of Fidel Castro, which since 1987 noticed the delays in the shipments arriving from Russia and where initial processes of public agitation were redeemed together with the collaboration of means of force and strategy - such as the televised execution of Arnaldo Ochoa in July 1989. In this transition between stability and the vertigo of a global recession of socialism, the Third Havana Biennial emerged as the cultural platform heir to an era and with the intention of narrating to the world the juxtaposition between socialism, politics, culture, art and society from a global perspective —with an ambitious agenda of international collaboration. In the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers in 1983, the Wilfredo Lam Visual Arts and Curatorial Center was established as the pivotal axis and emitter of the critical discourse of the period of art biennials that would take place in Cuba from 1985 onwards. Within its political framework, this declaration reflects the need to express the work of the Wilfredo Lam Center as a universal expression of art, and within that globalist aspiration, a special linkage with the artistic production in Africa, Asia and Latin America -as an antithesis to the monopolization of Western cultural production- and with a clear emphasis on the enhancement of the artistic value, curatorial activity and visual communication of Cuban referents. Finally, the artistic proposal must be communicated through the appropriate channels, as well as successive educational and collaborative activities to facilitate its diffusion at the national level.

Thus, the Third Havana Biennial emerged as a platform for citizen involvement and was intended to extend those ties with the invitation of curators and artists from the aforementioned geographical areas, but it also existed as a vehicle between society and art. The territory of the Havana Biennial was discontinuous, provocative, and diffuse. The negative spaces of the urban fabric configured potentially useful spaces to stage the artistic manifesto of the biennial itself. In this sense, the city was positioned as an instrument capable of being subverted with a didactic intentionality. However, it was based on completely ideal positions on both scales, local and international. The Biennial was everywhere.  The Biennial was the topic of conversation among families, it was the event that articulated part of the cultural entertainment of the city itself and functioned as a magnificent focus of propaganda —where this should not necessarily be understood as a political loudspeaker. Admission was free, and the artistic activity was extrapolated to other areas and focuses. The aim was to generate an infrastructure for the proposition of artistic knowledge, while at the same time this opportunity provided an opportunity for retroactivity between society itself and the biennial. It also served as entertainment. And in this extension, the biennial itself was a tool for the population itself to understand the meaning of Havana in a different way, and it was efficiently geared into the political machinery of the moment.

Advisor:

Esra Akcan

Curators:

Piergianna Mazzocca

Sophia Bachas

Eduardo Cilleruelo Terán

Roy Zhang,

Institution:

Cornell University

AAP

Year:
Fall 2022

Third Havana Biennial

Image> La Tercera Bienal de la Habana de 1989, photograph of the exhibition.

Third Havana Biennial

Image> La Tercera Bienal de la Habana de 1989, photograph of the exhibition.

Third Havana Biennial

Image> La Tercera Bienal de la Habana de 1989, photograph of the exhibition.

Third Havana Biennial

Image> La Tercera Bienal de la Habana de 1989, photograph of the exhibition.

Image> La Tercera Bienal de la Habana de 1989,  video exhibition. 

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