New York artists could make a splash at next year’s Havana Biennial (May 22–June 22, 2015), as the Bronx Museum is reportedly in talks with National Fine Arts Museum in Havana to plan the first exhibition in Cuba by a US museum. According to the Art Newspaper, the potential exchange would see Cuban artists receive an exhibition in the Bronx in 2016.
Preparing for its 12th edition, the Havana Biennial was founded in 1984 as the Bienal de la Habana. In the intervening years, it expanded from its initial mission of showing only Latin American and Caribbean artists to showcasing other “non-Western” artists from Africa and Asia as well. The most recent event, in 2012, saw a grand total of 45 countries represented, including a number of European artists, and yes, one from the US.
Although the US still maintains its long-standing trade embargo against Cuba, those sanctions do not include art. Additionally, travel restrictions on Americans visiting Cuba became less strict in 2009, allowing arts professionals from the States to visit the island nation more freely.
Culture plays an important role in “breaking barriers imposed by governments that have nothing to do with the will of the artists” said National Fine Arts Museum in Havana director Ana Cristina Perera in a recent speech, according to the EFE news agency. Perera was delivering the opening remarks for the museum’s current exhibition, “African American Artists and Abstraction,” which features nine American artists, and saw some 80 American artists, curators, and intellectuals in attendance for the opening.
While she was not discussing the potential collaboration between the Havana and Bronx museums, Perera’s remarks are illustrative of a desire within the Cuban art community to improve its dialogue with the US, a goal which the Bronx Museum’s participation in the Havana Biennial would certainly advance.
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