Logística del Arte: A Challenge

(Interview with Enrique Martínez Murillo) [1]

Pérez & Del Valle

I found this project to be exceptional. A Cuban pavilion in Venice conceived to be a group exhibition of 14 artists was a great challenge, an adventure we assumed with the enthusiasm and the commitment with which our enterprise has carried out numberless art projects since the Tenth Havana Biennial in 2009.

In this case, Logística del Arte not only assumed the packing, transportation, preparation, and mounting of the exhibition and graphics, but also the production and insurance of all the actions derived from the Cuban presence. This entailed constructing and coordinating extensive equipment with the additional challenge of adapting to the very particular conditions of Venice, an extremely beautiful city built around canals.

While it sounds simple when recounting the process, this meant deploying a detailed strategy: organizing everything including arranging for the rental of the space, securing the airplane tickets and lodging for the artists, documentation of the process, securing insurance and organizing the opening. That, in addition to the transportation of the pieces, the mounting of each one in the library of the Venetian Institute of the Arts and Literature (a splendid and complex site), and the communication and assistance with each artist according to the nature of his or her work (varying from the requirements of a performance such as Carlos Martiel’s to the setting up of a sculpture on an urban scale like that of Esterio Segura).

A Venetian palace at the feet of the Academy Bridge: a stroke of luck?

Like almost everything in life, it was a mixture of perseverance and fate. My company had accompanied the Cuban participation in the 55th edition of the Venice Biennial. From that moment on we had dreamed of securing an autonomous presence where the Cuban artists wouldn’t have to share space with artists from any other country. The president of the Consejo Nacional de las Artes Plásticas (National Council for Visual Arts) proposed the challenge then (2013) … And certain events in my personal life which forced me to rest somehow favored that objective, because in that period I recovered several contacts from an old hand-written diary … and immersed myself into this new challenge.

I made an initial visit with a colleague and toured many possible spaces in 48 hours … the Loredan Palace was first on the list. I was convinced from the first moment that it would be the perfect place. But discipline and curiosity compelled us to visit all of Venice to see a long list of possible sites drawn up for us by a fellow architect: palaces in convoluted alleyways with only a few meters of useful space available, halls in excellent buildings large enough for only one or two artists, museums with only very contaminated common spaces … all of them with astronomical rental fees.

So my first hunch was correct. The Cuban pavilion at the 57 Venice Biennial would be located at Loredan Palace, one of the largest and most centrally located spaces one could dream of in Venice … and from there we would build a utopia.

Was there any way to measure the public’s reception?

We placed a book in the hall to enable the visitors to leave their impressions. It was very interesting, because they were neither the opinions of the specialized critics (which, ultimately, can be found on the internet) nor conversations with this or that curator or specialist. They were visitors from all over the world with very diverse points of view who expressed their opinions and particularly the emotions aroused by the individual pieces or the exhibition as a whole. There were no unfavorable opinions. There were dozens and dozens of pages in many languages, occasionally drawings inspired by the exhibition itself, contributing from the personal vision of each visitor a possibility of communication and relationship with Cuba, its artists, and its people, and with this specific moment when “times of intuition” seem to prevail.

[1] Version of a text published in Arte por Excelencias.

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