An Insider's Guide to the 2019 Havana Biennial

 Joseph Akel

Joseph Akel

The Biennial is coming back to Havana April 12-May 19, 2019. After last year’s Biennial was cancelled due to hurricane damage, artists from all over the world will descend on the island for an entire month for free art expositions, workshops, and conferences. This year’s theme is “The Construction of the Possible” and hundreds of artists from over 40 countries have been invited. This will be the thirteenth Havana Biennial.

 

THE HISTORY

 Duke Reilly

Duke Reilly

Cuba is world-renowned for its robust and influential arts and culture. The international art circuit is no different, as hundreds of Cuban artists produce highly sought-after pieces art collectors all over the world. The first Biennial took place in Havana in 1984. Before then, Cuba had the International Film Festival, the International Festival of Books, and the Festival of Ballet. “What was missing was art,” said Nelson Herrera, co-founder and curator of the event. 

 

What’s happening and where

 Lorenzo Fiaschi

Lorenzo Fiaschi

This year’s Biennial is special because it is the first one to hold expositions outside of Havana. Havana will have over thirty spaces dedicated solely to the art in the biennial and the three-kilometer stretch of Linea which will have pop-up expositions throughout the street.

Havana

“The Cultural Corridor of Linea Street” – Linea is a bustling throughway in Havana, connecting the neighborhood of Miramar to Vedado and ending at the Malecon. The street is home to multiple influential theaters, Carlos Acosta’s dance company, jazz spots and restaurants and bars. These cultural spots on Linea will open their doors to Biennial visitors focusing on painting, books, arts and theater. The street will be painted in color and new benches will be put in for visitors to hang out, and ponder art.

“Behind the Wall” – Behind the Malecon, the one kilometer stretch from Maceo park to Prado Boulevard will house over fifty artists and galleries.

Pabellon Cuba, the cultural center in the middle of Vedado will have ten artists put on expositions related to architecture.

The City’s Historic center, Old Havana, will have secret pop up galleries throughout.

“El Taller Chullima” – a space close to the famous Fabrica del Arte will be curated by Wilfredo Prieto and merge together various mediums – including internally acclaimed cuisine --  for an artistic space for the ages.

The Museum of Fine Arts will have new galleries in the central lobby part of the museum.

Pinar del Rio will have a children’s art center

Matanzas will have a café designed by American artist Magdalena Campos

Cienfuegos will have a space on the water called “Mar Adentro”, where 4 visual artists and 2 architects will create an artistic space on the old dock where boats used to come in to Cienfuegos.

Camaguey will have a video-focused gallery.

Un lugar en el campo (a place in the countryside, near the national highway) will have a one kilometer stretch of pavement in the form of a figure 8, or infinity symbol, for visitors to walk, talk, sit, recreate, and appreciate art. There will be benches and trees put in as well.

 

Who’s coming

The invited artist’s list is not yet public – we will be posting the full list plus interviews with artists once the list is out.

Eve North Photography

 

How do I go

In order to navigate the large festival and gain access to behind-the-scenes cocktails, dinner parties and exhibits, CET has a Biennial-focused trip that will unlock the best of the 2019 event. It will offer personal encounters and workshops with artists and musicians, along with other special experiences. Check it out here. CET also works on customized visits for groups of all size for visitors that want to enjoy the Biennial with white glove treatment and preferred access. Contact isabel@cubaeducationaltravel.com to start planing your trip. 

 

Isabel Albee