Making Art Global (Part I): The Third Havana Biennial 1989
January 19, 2012, 8:00 pm

Location: Auditorium, Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten (Amsterdam)
Language: English
Entrance fee: Free

In collaboration with Afterall Books, the Stedelijk Museum and the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten are organizing the official Amsterdam book launch in celebration of the publication of Making Art Global (Part I): The Third Havana Biennial 1989, published in the Afterall Exhibition Histories series. The book launch takes place within the framework of the Temporary Stedelijk 3 – Stedelijk @ Rijksakademie Public Program. 

In many respects, 1989 marked a year of unprecedented revolutions, bringing forth sweeping changes in politics and culture that still influence our lives today. The fall of the Berlin Wall ushered in the collapse of communist regimes and the rise of capitalism across Eastern Europe, the creation of the World Wide Web heralded an era of global communication and trade, and the massacres at Tiananmen Square inspired a global consciousness of political events. In contemporary art and theory, these events – and, more importantly, the year 1989 – are now the subject of many research projects and exhibitions. Looking at the contemporary context of 1989, there were two major exhibitions that irrevocably altered the conditions of the art field: Magiciens de la Terre and the third Bienal de La Habana in Cuba. The former is the exhibition under scrutiny in a forthcoming Afterall publication; the latter is discussed in the Exhibition Histories book launched at the Stedelijk. One of few international contemporary art events in the world during its time, the third Havana Biennial – though kept in relative obscurity in exhibition history – was innovative and groundbreaking in manifold ways. Moving away from the notion of national representations, which had been standard practice since the foundation of the Venice Biennial in 1895, the Havana Biennial sought a more thematic approach and was one of the first to include a major international conference in its program, establishing the now common practice of seeing contemporary artistic production as part of a larger discursive framework of research and knowledge production. In addition, as Rachel Weiss, author of the main essay in Making Art Global (Part I) phrases it, “The third Bienal was one of the first exhibitions of contemporary art to aspire a global reach […] outside of the European and North American art system, which had, until then, undertaken to decide what art had global significance.”

The achievements of the third Havana Biennial all appear to be preconditions of contemporary art exhibitions and biennials today, and this is precisely why it is interesting to look at the history and context of this particular exhibition. From which specific context did this biennial arise, and how has it developed since? What place does the biennial take up in exhibition history, an increasingly popular subject of art history? And how is the project initiated by the third Havana Biennial realized in biennials and large-scale exhibitions today? Should we perceive it as a unique phenomenon, particular to its time and place, or does it relate to other exhibitions of contemporary art in the world that set out similar goals?

These questions will be discussed in two keynote presentations, delivered by Gerardo Mosquera (freelance curator and critic; involved in the first, second, and third Havana Biennial) and Rachel Weiss (professor of arts administration and policy, School of the Art Institute of Chicago), respectively. Afterward, a moderated debate will take place with Gerardo Mosquera, Rachel Weiss and Direlia Lazo (freelance curator), among others, moderated by Annie Fletcher (curator of exhibitions, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven).


8:00 pm - Welcome by Hendrik Folkerts (curator of the Public Program, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam)
8:05 pm - Introduction by Annie Fletcher (curator of exhibitions, Van Abbemuseum)
8:20 pm - Lecture by Rachel Weiss (professor of arts administration and policy, School of the Art Institute of Chicago)
8:50 pm - Short break
9:00 pm - Lecture by Gerardo Mosquera (freelance curator and critic)
9:30 pm - Discussion with Direlia Lazo (freelance curator), Gerardo Mosquera and Rachel Weiss among others, moderated by Annie Fletcher
10:10 pm - Final remarks and questions
10:30 pm - End

About the book Making Art Global (Part 1): The Third Havana Biennial 1989:

The second book in Afterall’s Exhibition Histories series focuses on the third edition of the Bienal de La Habana, which took place in 1989. In the core essay, Rachel Weiss examines the ways in which this exhibition extended the global territory of contemporary art and redefined the biennial model. A key member of the curatorial team, Gerardo Mosquera, contributes a reflection on the project, and its constituent exhibitions and events are documented photographically. The book also includes papers delivered by Geeta Kapur and Mirko Lauer at the Bienal conference and republishes reviews of the Bienal by Coco Fusco and Luis Camnitzer. Opening with an introduction by Charles Esche and bringing together recent interviews with participating artists Alex Ángeles, José Bedia, Alfredo Márquez, and Lázaro Saavedra. crucial texts from the time are complemented with vital new material, including 105 color images and 18 black-and-white images.

The Exhibition Histories series investigates exhibitions that have shaped the way contemporary art is experienced, made, and discussed.

Published by Afterall Books in association with the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2011. Distributed by Koenig Books, London.
ISBN - Afterall Books - £14.95
ISBN - Koenig Books - €16.80

Speakers biographies:

Annie Fletcher is currently curator of exhibitions at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, and tutor at de Appel arts centre’s Curatorial Programme, Amsterdam. Recent exhibitions include solo presentations and projects with Jo Baer, Jutta Koether, Cerith Wynn Evans, Deimantas Narkevicius, Minerva Cuevas, and the long term project, Be(com)ing Dutch with Charles Esche (2006–2009). Fletcher was co-founder and co-director of the rolling curatorial  platform If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution with Frederique Bergholtz (2005–2010), and co-curator of Cork Caucus with Charles Esche and Art / not art (2005). As a writer, she has contributed to various magazines, including Afterall and Metropolis M, and is currently on the editorial board of A Prior magazine. She is currently working on monographic exhibitions of David Maljkovic (2012) and Sheela Gowda (2013) for the Van Abbemuseum and has been appointed as the curator for the next Eva International which will take place in May 2012.

Direlia Lazo is an independent curator and art critic based in Barcelona, Spain. She has been an assistant curator at the Wilfredo Lam Art Centre, which organizes the Havana Biennale. In 2009, she was one of the winners of Inéditos 09, a prize established by Caja Madrid for young curators. She has independently curated exhibitions such as Cero, Young Cuban Artists, La Habana (2007); Just Around the Corner, La Casa Encendida, Madrid (2009); I’m not here. An exhibition without Francis Alÿs, de Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam (2010); and, more recently, Somewhere Else, Nogueras Blanchard gallery, Barcelona (2011). As an art critic, she has written essays for exhibition catalogues and art magazines. She has also worked in different artists’ projects such as Tania Bruguera's Cátedra Arte de Conducta (Behaviour Art School). She graduated in art history from Havana University in 2007 and participated in de Appel’s Curatorial Programme in 2009-2010.

Gerardo Mosquera is a curator, critic and, art historian based in Havana. He is adjunct curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, and advisor at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam. He is also a member of the advisory board of several art journals. Mosquera co-founded the Havana Biennial in 1984, and has curated many international exhibitions, among them Border Jam, Montevideo (2007); Transpacific, Santiago (2007); Liverpool Biennial International (2006) (with Manray Hsu); Cordially Invited (with Maria Hlavajova), Utrecht (2004); Panorama of Brazilian Art, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Vigo (2003); MultipleCity (with Adrienne Samos), Panama (2003); Perverting Minimalism, Madrid (2000); and Cildo Meireles (with Dan Cameron), New York (1999). He has written numerous texts on contemporary art and art theory for journals such as Third Text, Kunstforum, and Art Nexus. His book publications include the Iniva publication Beyond the Fantastic (1995), an anthology of art criticism from Latin America, Over Here: International Perspectives on Art and Culture (2005), co-edited with Jean Fisher, and Copying Eden: Recent Art from Chile (2007).

Rachel Weiss is a professor of arts administration and policy at School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has been traveling to Cuba and writing about Cuban art since 1986. Her books include To Build the Sky: To and From Utopia in the New Cuban Art (2011), Free Trade Disapora: Writings on Art, Artists and Other Utopias (with Luis Camnitzer) (2009), Por América: La obra de Juan Francisco Elso (2000), and Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin 1950s-1980s (1999). Books she has edited or co-edited include Being América (2008), Ante América (1992), and The Nearest Edge of the World: Art and Cuba Now (1990). Her writing has also appeared in magazines and journals, including Social Identities, Art Journal, Art Nexus, New Art Examiner, and the Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society.
Stedelijk@ Rijksakademie 1, Gerardo Mosquera, co-curator Third Havana Biennial, 19 January, 2012 (photo Ernst van Deursen) Stedelijk@ Rijksakademie 1, Gerardo Mosquera, co-curator Third Havana Biennial, 19 January, 2012 (photo Ernst van Deursen)