Tuesday April 24, 2018

In Havana, 3 Months of Art, Conversation, and a Touch of “Futurist Marketing”

The 7th Salon of Cuban Contemporary Art looks at art on the island, past and present

During the public participation project Mediadores que marcan experiencias (Mediators that mark experiences) by Grethell Rasúa and Harold García

Courtesy CDAV

In late October, the 7th Salon of Cuban Contemporary Art opened at the Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales (CDAV) in La Habana Vieja.

Since then, the Salon has kept up a steady pace of exhibitions, lectures, panel discussions, conversations, screenings, workshops, interventions, and other programs.

The theme of this Salon is Un ensayo de colaboración, An essay in collaboration.

With the Salon heading into its final weeks, we recap some of the highlights and look ahead to what’s still to come.

The Salon opened with an exhibition and reception at CDAV on Friday, October 27. (All events presented at CDAV unless otherwise noted.)

Visitors at the Salon opening with Invaluable by Nelson Jalil and Juan Pablo Estrada

Courtesy CDAV

The first full week began with Despierto, a performance by William Ruiz on Tuesday, October 31. In early November, Yonlay Cabrera gave a talk on “Inconclusive Investigations into Sandú Darié,” about the influential 20th-century artist and member of Los 10 pintores concretos.

Cabrera then oversaw the opening of Diagramas, his own solo exhibition.

A view of Diagramas, the solo exhibition by Yonlay Cabrera at CDAV

Courtesy CDAV

Other presentations also explored aspects of Cuban art history and their connections to Cuban art today. In mid-November José Manuel Fors spoke with artist and critic Julio Céssar Llópiz about Pintura fresca, the milestone 1978 group exhibition that Fors was part of.

José Manuel Fors, right, talks with Julio César Llópiz about the landmark 1979 exhibition Pintura fresca

Photo: Alejandro Valderrama, courtesy CDAV

Juan Delgado assembled a program on Detrás del muro (Behind the Wall), which has presented exhibitions with the 2012 and 2015 Havana Biennials. The topic of the Salon conversation: “Detrás del muro, Art, and Society.” In another presentation, Néstor Siré and Antonio M. Ramos Hernández spoke on “Aporías: ¿Limites de lo social?”

The presentation by Néstor Siré and Antonio M. Ramos Hernández

Courtesy CDAV

Among the projects opening in November were El arte de la escucha, described as a “collaborative work in progress.” The exhibition, wrote its creators, was based on “our inability as a society to listen to certain stories, and to leave them out of historical constructions.”

One part of the work—En la cocina de mi casa, 2005–2017, an installation by Henry Eric Hernández and Carmen Doncel (historian)—was presented at CDAV.

A view of El arte de la escucha, the exhibition by Henry Eric Hernández, installed at CDAV.

Courtesy CDAV

A second part—Memoria de la vagancia, created by Eileen Almarales Noy and Laura Pérez Insua—was an intervention in a residential building in Havana’s Barrio San Isidro.

Part of the intervention Memoria de la vagancia by Eileen Almarales Noy and Laura Pérez Insua, including a sound installation for listening and an inscription projected on the seat cushion

Courtesy CDAV

Puros cuentos/Biografía colectiva, 2015–2017, by Isabel Cristina Gutiérrez and Laura Pérez Insua, was the third part of El arte de la escucha.

Another art intervention took place at CDAV on Friday, December 1, when the group Balada Tropical presented Balada Tropical visita la Tierra, a performance involving music and dance in an altered environment.

Balada Tropical visita la Tierra at CDAV

Courtesy CDAV

In Mediadores que marcan experiencias, Grethell Rasúa and Harold García created a participatory artwork and performance that was open to the public.

Participants were asked to attend a meeting the day before the performance, in which the artists explained what was needed: an object of great personal significance that would be pressed into the skin, hard enough to leave a mark.

In this video report from Cuba TV, Rasúa explains the project (in Spanish), with footage of the preparation, process, and exhibition.

In mid-December, Clandestina, which bills itself as “Cuba’s first clothing brand,” presented a talk on “Clandestina Corp: An exercise in futuristic marketing.” With its “Actually, I’m in Havana,” “99% Cuban design,” and other T-shirts, Clandestina has been covered by Vogue, the BBC, and other international publications.

The talk was followed by a hands-on screen-printing workshop, in which the phrase ‘Relajate y colabora” (Relax and collaborate) was printed on different surfaces.

‘Relajate y colabora”: The screen-printing workshop after the Clandestina presentation

Courtesy CDAV

And the Salon continues. Events this afternoon include a 3 p.m. presentation by Ariamna Contino and Alex Hernández on their project Aliento (Breath), and at 4 p.m., a presentation by artists Juan Pablo Estrada and Nelson Jalil on the catalogue of the Colección Invaluable, and their intervention/installation Invaluable.

On Thursday, January 18, Magaly Espinoza wraps up her weekly chat, Conversando sobre arte contemporáneo (Talking about contemporary art), at the Pabellón Cuba in Vedado. The Salon closes with an 8 p.m. concert on Saturday, January 20.

Here is a full schedule of the programming and events for the 7th Salon.

Courtesy CDAV

The 7mo Salón de Arte Cubano Contemporáneo is organized by the Centro de Desarrollo de la Arte Visual (CDAV) with the support of the Consejo Nacional de Artes Plásticas (CNAP).