Arts, Culture & Media

Seeing the art and culture of the Havana Biennial

Rachel Valdés Camejo's Composición Infinita_Sonia Narang_CROP.jpg

A beautiful sound and light installation with mirrors by 24-year-old Cuban artist Rachel Valdés Camejo. I met Rachel on my last day in Havana, and just had to check out her exhibition before heading to the airport after an amazing week at the Havana Biennial.

Credit:

Sonia Narang

Sonia Narang recently traveled to Cuba as a tourist to see the Havana Biennial, a monthlong international arts extravaganza boasting massive outdoor sculptures, installations and even an ice rink right on Havana's oceanfront Malecón. She posted these photos to her Instagram and shared them with us here.

Several years ago, I filmed a video story about environmental artist Mary Mattingly and her eco-friendly barge, "The Waterpod," as it docked at ports across New York City. I recently walked into the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana, and saw Mattingly's fascinating art installation "Pull," a large globe-like sculpture on display in the center of the museum. This piece is part of a special collaboration with the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York, and made its debut at the Havana Biennial in May. The sphere consists of recycled materials from Havana and New York. When you step inside, you're enveloped by a mini-ecosystem of real plants, birds, insects, and fish.

Credit:

Sonia Narang

Moroccan artist Safaa Erruas created her Havana Biennial piece — an Arabic-style fountain with white barbed wire poles sticking out — as a statement on political boundaries. The installation is called “Fuente de Espinas,” or “Fountain of Thorns,” in English. “The barbed wire spikes are a reference to borders,” Erruas said. “At first, you don’t see the borders, since nothing appears at first as what’s reality,” she said.

Credit:

Sonia Narang

A mom and her son look at art installations along Havana's famous sea-facing esplanade, the Malecón. The entire collection of art here is called "Detrás del muro," or "Behind the Wall" in English.

Credit:

Sonia Narang

Violinist Alejandro Junco chats with a young classical music fan at an art exhibition in Havana. He's a graduate of Cuba's prestigious arts school, Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA). I met Alejandro as he played solo violin inside the ruins of an old building that was transformed into an art venue for the Havana Biennial.

Credit:

Sonia Narang

Havana's 18th-century fortress La Cabaña is one of the many spectacular venues for the Havana Biennial. Called Zona Franca, the art exhibition has turned dozens upon dozens of fortress rooms into innovative galleries all month long.

Credit:

Sonia Narang

Opening weekend of the Havana Biennial, a stretch of the Malecón was closed to traffic. Only on rare occasions can pedestrians walk down Cuba's most famous sea-facing esplanade without cars.

Credit:

Sonia Narang