Since May 22, the Havana Biennial has transformed the city with contemporary art. This year, it has flung open the doors of once-closed structures, from electric plants to defunct bicycle factories, injected cheeky and spirited installations into the city’s urban texture, and overwhelmed with too much art to possibly see, challenging visitors and locals alike to take in as much as they can before the show comes down on June 22.
This year’s iteration both jumps beyond and continues in that vein. As the first biennial to take place in a different economic and regulatory climate than years prior—visitors to Havana will find new tourism infrastructure, and the promise of political change in the form of a fresh diplomatic and economic relationship with the United States—this year’s biennial is a debutante ball of sorts. An exuberant first-week program of ancillary exhibits complemented the formal offerings of the biennial: Cuban artists who had decamped to foreign countries years ago have returned, opening studios and informal galleries in Havana; an assortment of new spaces, eschewing the model of either commercial gallery or artist-run collective and instead creating their own rules, have opened in apartments and homes around the city. Open studios, inaugurations, and performances of the first week of the biennial took place at a dizzying pace.
Elsewhere, hats off to the New York Cosmos who gave a deft display of finishing to polish off the Cuban national team 4:1 on a wet but still packed evening at the Pedro Marrero Stadium. The Cosmos are simply the latest in a wave of new visitors to Cuba who are coming to see for themselves the tropical magic that is Cuba.
June 2015 Highlights (Havana, unless stated)
- May 22-June 22: The 12th Havana Biennial
- June 4-28: III Encuentro de Jóvenes Pianistas & Musicalia 2015
- June 16-18: VIII Congreso Internacional de Diseño de La Habana, FORMA 2015
- June 24-28: Habana Vieja: X Festival Internacional Danzón Habana 2015
- June 16-July 1: Cucalambeana Country Fair (Las Tunas)
Do check out our expanded Havana Guide, which is growing to accommodate the new bars, restaurants and casas particulares that continue to spring forth adding vitality and energy to Havana’s entertainment and hospitality scene.
Thanks to all of our contributors, sponsors, partners and readers. Do please keep providing us with your feedback, comments and suggestions. All enquiries should be directed to Sophia Beckman at CubaAbsolutely@gmail.com. All the best. Viva Cuba!