Lonely Planet Writer

Cuba’s leading artistic event returns to Havana in 2019

After a four-year hiatus, the month-long edition of the XIII Bienal de La Habana (Havana Biennial) will take over galleries, streets and public spaces in Cuba’s capital city from 12 April until 12 May 2019. To say that there will be radical thought-provoking art on display is an understatement.

Exhibit at La Fabrica de Arte Cubano. Photo by: Diana Rita Cabrera

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 attendees from 49 countries that will “invade the city”, as confirmed by the organisers of the National Council of Plastic Arts and the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wilfredo Lam.

Compared to its previous editions, the Bienal will cover a wider area within Havana, including the six-kilometre-long project known as Detrás del Muro (Behind the Wall) from Vedado’s Calle Linea going all the way until Castillo de San Salvador de La Punta. Detrás del Muro transforms Havana’s iconic seaside Malecón into an open-air gallery where numerous artists take advantage of the usually-crowded seawall’s awe-inspiring landscape and turn it into a provocative art space hosting everything from an artificial beach to a provisional ice rink.

Visitors at La Fabrica de Arte Cubano. Photo by: Diana Rita Cabrera

“Construction of the Possible” is the motto inviting creators from Portugal, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, France, Peru and Spain, among other countries.

The curators explained that 2019 edition 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 delayed decision to postpone it in 2017 and 2018’s cancellation due to hurricane Irma’s devastation in Cuba, the Bienal de La Habana celebrates the city’s 500 anniversary in 2019 but for the first time it will extend its exhibitions to other provinces such as Pinar del Río, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Sancti Spíritus and Camagüey.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana. Photo by: Diana Rita Cabrera

Visitors are welcome to join the Bienal at its 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.