12th Havana Biennial 2015: Look Back

Between the idea and the experience.

For the 12th Havana Biennial edition, held between May 22 and June 22, 2015, the theme “Between the idea and the experience” was presented, a journey through the history of the biennial itself. The largest exhibitions were “Zona Franca“, located in La Cabaña, and” Detrás del muro“, which means “behind the wall”, took over the iconic Havana seawalk. In addition, it had a collateral sample that included more than one hundred interventions throughout the city and about 50 open studios, a modality that allowed artists to share their creation space, perhaps escaping a strict curatorship, and the audience being a participant in that art.

The 12th Havana Biennial displayed the largest communication campaign that the event has shown throughout its history. Hundreds of articles in the national press, exceptional radio and television coverage, catalogs, posters, urban graphics overflowing walls and lampposts, the consolidation of a television newscast, were accompanied by a wide impact on specialized cultural media. From the international, both in general and specialized media, they devoted ample space to review and analyze the strategies deployed by the event in its twelfth edition. In a general sense, it aroused great interest for its clear vocation of diversity and its emphasis on the socialization of the event. Not a few controversies arose that have maintained their most critical differences even in the current days.

With the purpose of exploring paths different from those of the mega exhibition, the12th Havana Biennial was projected as a decentralized event, which took place in the urban fabric, in different interstices of the city, in those spaces and daily circumstances that did not have prominence in previous editions. Hence, the event was interested in those practices that involve processes of transdisciplinary creation and intermediation, that produce research collaborations as pedagogical, underscoring the notion of the city as an active social laboratory.

 Collective perception were the challenges and uncertainties that experience generates; where new cultural horizons open up and other forms of sociability and interconnection are created. The projects that were presented in12th Havana Biennial affected its inhabitants either because they participated in its conception and realization or because their works were a living social laboratory. It was intended that the different scales of the urban fabric, universities, research centers and everything that makes integration possible, can be used as a site and work material.

Have you read about Detrás del Muro, one of the best exhibitions of the Havana Biennial?