HAVANA BIENNIAL DOCUMENTARY

Posted Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 12:17 pm

OPC Blog Entry 1

March 24th,  2009

With the Havana Biennial still two days away, we are getting the lay of the land. The first major event of the week, the group exhibition Estado de Excepción by the students of Arte de Conducta, opened Tuesday, March 24th.

Visitors had entered even before the 5 PM opening, and by the time we arrived around 6, the space was packed. The crowd had barely begun to dwindle when the show officially closed at 9. After familiarizing ourselves with the space, we had the chance to look more closely at the work and speak with the artists involved. Even at midnight – after a full day of installation, plus hours of conversing, not to mention months of preparation – the artists were still eager to talk with us about their work.

The cooperative concept of the exhibition extended to the opening itself, where the group dynamic was evident. Having been students at Arte de Conducta anywhere from six months to several years, the participants were not only familiar with fellow students’ work, but also involved in the exhibition and presentation of the final projects.

From slide shows to actions to video, this first night of nine one-day installations was a multimedia event. For example, in Raychel Carrión’s video Falla de origen, the artist documented an off-pace march in Cuba’s May Day parade. Nancy Martínez’s Secuencia de uno involved a carnival machine that offered winning players handmade dolls of Fidel Castro at various stages in history. While many of the artists’ works referenced aspects of Cuban history and politics, others addressed issues ranging from personal histories to global events. Ernesto Gallardo’s La Historia y yo memorialized the young artist’s life as a millennial Cuban in the style of traditional museum display. Novo, a collective of young artists, lined the gallery walls with collaged newspaper remnants with results ranging from comedy to provocation.

We look forward to seeing more work by young Cuban artists and, after visiting the biennial later in the week, gaining insight into how this work is in conversation with the influx of international artists coming to Havana.

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