Havana Biennial

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Havana Biennial
Begins 1984
Frequency biennial, every two year.
Location(s) Havana, Cuba
Organised by Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center

The Havana Biennial Art Exhibition takes place in Havana (Cuba) every two years and principally aims at promoting the developing world in contemporary art. The biennial is considered as an important forum for underrepresented voices, and Latin American and Caribbean artists still have priority even though artists from all over the world are authorized to submit their works.

Since its first edition in 1984, the Biennial event has had central themes, among them tradition and contemporary times, challenges, art, society and reflection, man and his memory, life with art and urban life. The works submitted by the artists include mainly paintings and two-dimensional work, using a wide variety of techniques and trends.


The first Havana Biennial was established in 1984, long before the worldwide boom of biennials that emerged in the mid-nineties. This first edition of the festival focused on artists from Latin America and the Caribbean only.[1]

Since the second Havana Biennial in 1986, the focus extended to include art from Africa and Asia, thus becoming the most important meeting place for artists from "non-Western" countries.

The Havana Biennial has not always been able to take place on during the two-year rotation due to funding challenges. The 8th Biennial of 2002 did was delayed an entire year, resuming in November 2003. This Biennial was however noteworthy as it showcased art functioning within the social landscape, outside of traditional institutions. Artists that would normally be unable to participate within large institutions or who prefer to work outside of such institutions are able to better engage diverse audiences by bringing art out the museum and into the streets. Noteworthy artists to have "activated" the urban space include Mitchell Sipus and Fabiana de Barros.

At the beginning, the first two Biennial events included an awards ceremony, but then the organizing committee decided to make it a non-competitive event.

The 10th Havana Biennial[edit]

With a central theme called "Integration and resistance in the Globalization Era", the 10th Havana Biennial Art Exhibition took place from March 27 to April 30, 2009. Experts from the Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center reviewed more than 400 proposals submitted by artists from 44 nations. For the first time, the organisers decided to include in the Biennial western countries.

In addition to fine arts exhibitions, the 10th Havana Biennial also included conferences, workshops and master classes, documentaries and video screenings. The artists transformed the city into a showcase of contemporary art, taking over all the available urban spaces and municipal galleries.

Topics which have piqued the interest of artists this year include the tensions between tradition and contemporary reality, challenges to the historical processes of colonization, the relationships between art and society, individuals and memory, the effects of technological development on human communication and the dynamics of urban culture.

The group of curators for this 2009 Biennial was made up by Margarita González, Nelson Herrera Ysla, José Manuel Noceda, Ibis Hernández Abascal, Margarita Sánchez Prieto, José Fernández Portal and Dannys Montes de Oca Moreda.

Selection of Cuban Artists Projects :


  1. ^ Burnett, Victoria (2012-05-18). "11th Havana Biennial Attracts Americans". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-04-22. 

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