Havana Art Biennial April 2019:The Construction of the Possible


Under the slogan ‘The construction of the possible’, the 13th Havana Art Biennial is due to take place 12 April – 12 May 2019 and will host a large number of artists from countries in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Known for its elaborate presentations – expect massive sculptures, unorthodox exhibitions, and public interventions – the event has inspired artists from all continents over the last 35 years. This time there’s an estimated group of over 150 artists from 49 countries that will “invade the city”, as announced by the organisers from the National Council of Visual Arts and the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wilfredo Lam.

The curators have explained that this year the Biennial aims to highlight the coexistence of human beings amidst challenging times, promoting communitarian projects and alternative creative expressions that endorse solidarity and tolerance.

After a decision to postpone it in 2017 and 2018’s cancellation due to hurricane Irma’s devastation in Cuba, this Havana Biennial celebrates the city’s 500th anniversary in 2019 but for the first time it will also extend its exhibitions to other provinces such as Pinar del Río,Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Sancti Spíritus and Camagüey.

Amongst Spanish-speaking nations most participants are from Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Mexico. From Africa: there are artists from Mali, the Republic of the Congo, Benin, Kenya, Morocco, the Republic of Senegal, Nigeria and Egypt, and Egypt has more participants than other African countries. From the Middle East: artists from Syria and Iran; from the Caribbean: Barbados, Martinique, Haiti, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic; from Asia: there are artists from Japan, China, India and the Philippines; and from Europe there will be Spanish, Finnish, German, French and Portuguese artists.





This Biennial will feature more than 80 Cuban artists belonging to different generations, including four national Visual Arts Award winners prizes (Manuel Mendive, René Francisco, José Villa Soberón and José Manuel Fors); others, widely recognized inside and outside the Island, and several young people who are emerging with force on the Cuban art scene right now. Photographers (Juan Carlos Alom, Frank Martínez), performance artists (Adonis Flores), painters (Alejandro Campins, Rocío García, David Beltrán, Dania González Sanabria) creators of installations and artists who make public interventions (José Manuel Mesías, Ruslan Torres Leyva) will contribute to the drawing of a plural and inclusive artistic map in which very diverse poetics will coexist.


There are also collective projects that will be commissioned by the Biennial. Several provinces of the country will host some of these projects. In Pinar del Río the Pharmacy Project will be held, while the artist Magdalena Campos will lead, in Matanzas, the ‘Ríos intermitentes’ initiative; Cienfuegos offers us ‘Internal Sea’, a collective that will pay tribute to the city’s 500th anniversary; and Camagüey will present works related to its International Video Art Festival.


Havana will have the ‘Espacios’ Project, responsible for the Cultural Corridor of Línea Street, and the ‘Chullima’ Workshop, presenting works by Joan Baizas, Cildo Meireles, Alberto Kalash, Hubert Sauper and Wilfredo Prieto. The National Museum of Fine Arts (MNBA) and the Galería Factoría Habana will host, respectively, the exhibitions ‘The Infinite Connection’ and ‘Intersections’, while the University of the Arts (ISA) will join with its Pedagogical Project, Havana’s Malecon seafront will be transformed into the largest outdoor gallery in the country (6km long!) thanks to the project ‘Behind the Wall’, which on this occasion will bring together more than 70 artists, and members of the Department of Art History at  Havana University will present a theoretical programme that includes conferences, conversations and exchanges with Cuban and foreign critics, essayists and curators.

There will be exhibitions at the regular venues at San Carlos de La Cabaña fortress, the Fototeca de Cuba, the Pabellón Cuba, as well as at Fábrica de Arte Cubano, Casa de las Américas, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and Factoría Habana.

The executive-curatorial team of the Biennial, is composed of Margarita González Llorente, Jorge Alfonso García, Nelson Herrera Ysla, José Manuel Noceda, Ibis Hernández, Margarita Sánchez, Lisset Alonso Compte, Pepe Fernández, among other specialists.

It is a major event for Cuba and hoped to be one of the most significant artistic epicentres of 2019.

Link to full report of launch in spanish by La Jiribilla here 

Additional information by Lonely Planet here

Info images with provisional artists participating from Centro de Arte Contemporanea Wilfredo Lam

Watch the spot for the 13th Havana Biennial in April 2019