The first time I took part in the Venice Biennial was in 2007 with the Istituto Italo-Latinoamericano (IILA), with the countries that did not have an exhibition space. Later, in 2011, I took part in a collateral exhibition together with Pinchuk Art Centre, and since I completed my studies at ISA I have attended most of the editions, so that in one way or another I’ve always had a personal and professional relationship with Venice and the Biennial.
This year, the IILA unfortunately hung up the gloves and cancelled their support because of financial problems. This deprived many of us artists from Latin America (the ones who most need it) of the possibility of participating, particularly those of us that cannot afford the cost of exhibiting in these marvelous palaces . . . Imagine, then, the pride in knowing that Cuba had its own pavilion for the first time, in the beautiful Loredan Palace: an unthinkable location. This is evidence of great interest and a very important economic sacrifice by the Ministry of Culture and the country. Surprisingly, even the mounting of the show, which is not easy in Venice, went very well.
Regardless of the criticism we may have about biennials, and particularly about the Venice Biennial, one cannot ignore the importance of this event. It’s like the Cuban participation in the Olympics. It’s a stimulus for the Cuban artists, an injection of energy and an exercise in marksmanship in the most important territory.
I would reconsider the participation concept, making it less significant in the next edition. In general, each country chooses one or two artists. In our case, I understand that it was logical that Cuba, in its first participation, wanted to present a wider outlook covering several generations: some 14 artists in 2017. But I think this kind of event is an opportunity, and it would be better to look toward synthesis, to a particular look, to the creation of paradigms, and the participation of artists who can redefine, focus, and signify new standards in the Cuban and international cultural scene.
It is very important to realize that art is purely elitist. I do not mean a bourgeois, economic or purely cognitive elite, but a sensitive one, capable of reaching everyone, regardless of the economic or social status but considering only their sensitivity. Therefore, we cannot fall into the cultural trivialization that obviously exists today at the international level, where the “democratization”, the promotion, and marketing predominate massively and randomly . . . The direction must focus more on the construction of specific paths, very solid and convincing in their content. Events such as this one cannot remain out of sight because of the opportunities they can contribute to our cultural panorama.