H o m e November 2000 - January 2001 Home

Press Release of the
Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center

(October 1999)

Since 1984, the Biennial of Havana has represented one of the most significant art gatherings in the world.

Originally conceived for Latin American and Caribbean artists, since its second edition in 1986, it became the space for confrontation and dissemination of wide sectors of the visual arts from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, where not only the work of up-moving artists were exhibited next to renowned names but also different expressions of handicraft, design, architecture, enfin, all that makes up the visual world of our geographic-cultural regions.

In 1989, the third time it was held, The Biennial of Havana set itself the task of structuring a series of exhibits, creation workshops and colloquia always around a central theme of reflection, which on that occasion was Tradition and Contemporaneity. Several places of the Historic center of Havana, as well as its modern areas welcomed hundreds of art works together with curators, art critics, historians, directors of museums and galleries, professors. A large part of the city also served as a stage to present the best of contemporary Cuban art, in a clear show of interest to profit from the visit of so many professionals from the world over.

In 1991, this cultural event was articulated around the theme Challenge to Colonization or artistic languages, and four great masters of Latin American architecture were paid homage. In the 1994 fifth edition, the Biennial of Havana addresses some of the important problems that most of humanity faces today, in five big collective shows: marginalization, migration, environment, individual appropriations and obsessions, while the idea of having individual exhibitions to highlight the trajectory of artists who had achieved certain fame in our regions gained ground.

The last edition, held in 1997, emphasized the problem of Memory as an essential factor in the definition of individual and collective identities, offering a varied program of how it is experienced by artists and cultures so geographically apart. The topic was also addressed for several day through works of plastic art and performances.

The next edition of the Biennial, scheduled for November and December of the year 2000, intends to reflect communication and dialogue among human beings in the midst of global, economic projects and the re-emergence of ethnic, religious and cultural particularisms which seem to increasingly accentuate the differences among the various communities and nations of the world.

From the most out-of-the-way places to the most important cities of any country, many individuals, institutions, and governments send and receive messages dealing with the simplest and most complex of problems. Beyond any illusion or desire, a large part of the modern world is intercommunicated today thanks to the technological progress made in the field of information. We are seeing the birth of a new age which will take definite shape in the coming new century and third millennium of Humanity.

However, given the differences existing among rich and poor nations, this level of intercommunication does nor develop equitably. In today's world hundreds of millions of persons still lack the necessary means to exercise what seems to be a universal right. Furthermore, all the progress made in computers, microprocessor and information technology has not been able to bring individuals close as was thought at first, since, paradoxically, having computerized and digitalized equipments even in our homes has not led us to establish closer contacts with other people; on the contrary, in many cases it has led to isolation and immobility in order no to part for a single moment from that guiding line which "communicates" us and is an inseparable part of many lives, perhaps depriving us of the traditional sources of exchange that has always made it possible to stay closer, to talk face to face, to understand one another better. Many men and women today suffer from the information and communication syndrome which is only a new face for the loneliness syndrome.

We have been subjected to so much development that we have ended up underdeveloping ourselves in the field of personal relations. This contemporary paradox is currently being analyzed by some sectors of philosophical social thought and of culture, concerned about these modern means of communication should effectively contribute to mere just relations among individuals, among different communities and nations.

Artists who live in rich countries and artists who live in poor countries alike have felt the nearness of that abyss, because art has not escaped that feeling and certainly of loneliness that rarefies the current atmosphere, and today feel the urge to brake those barriers and lay down bridges resorting to finding new ways and means that will make for a better rapprochement among humans.

In several parts of the planet they are trying to reconstruct traditional forms and lost models of communication which humankind achieved even in the midst of difficult living conditions, in an end-of-the-century attempt to better know and understand one another and coexist in an atmosphere of respect and peace which is so necessary to overcome once and for all the persistent intolerance that has gradually consolidated into one of the main evils of this 20th Century and threatens to extend timelessly to the 21st Century which its inevitable sequels of ethnic, cultural and religious conflicts that oftentimes lead to war.

The Seventh Biennial of Havana, convoked for November and December of the year 2000 by the Wifredo Lam Center, wishes to reflect upon this important issue by means of artistic designs and works that propose and effective dialogue among humans, an effective communication to convey the most authentic and noble values of our cultures, an inquiry about the communicative barriers between art and the public, with the aim of conjuring that evil, in order that can live on this planet in a more equitable way.

We see this Biennial as the end product of our viewpoints about some of contemporary man's main problems, which have been systematically addressed in previous editions, especially since 1991.

The team of curators of the Biennial, following their usual working method, will select the artists of different regions of the world who can carry out their designs in situ or send their works to previously identified old and modern parts of Cuba's capital. The expenses for making and transporting the designs and works that will be exhibited will be paid by the invited artists or their sponsoring institutions after coordinating it with the Biennial production team, as a way to contribute to the success of this event that has been able to keep up because of its importance and transcendence in addressing significant problems of humankind and its contemporary culture.

The Organizing Committee is also open to proposals of works and designs that comply with the central reflection objectives stated here. The convenience of carrying them out will be assessed even if they do not belong to artists or countries of the regions that are our main object of study.

At the same time, the Organizing Committee proposes conducting a Contemporary Engraving Workshop and a series of lectures related to the global project of this Biennial. It was also, on this occasion, for the first time, convoke art and architecture students to meetings, in which educational centers of different parts of the world wishing to do so can participate.

Theme  (english)

Thema  (deutsch)


© All rights reserved

contact  |  masthead  |  newsletter  |  search