If one of the fundamental premises of the current edition of the Havana Biennial, still being intensely lived throughout the city, has consisted in fostering and favoring projects in which the artists’ performances are organically inserted in small urban spaces, so that art can more directly impact the people’s daily life, even for a short period of time, then the second edition of “Behind the Wall”, the great collective exhibit located along Havana’s Malecón, curated by Juan Delgado, has completely fulfilled that purpose.
That being said, “Behind the Wall” is not included in the Official Exhibit List of the event, still being a collateral project, despite the fact that in the first edition, the popular exhibit at the Malecón stole the show, as it is commonly said in Cuban Spanish. This time around the success with the public has been the same. One has to walk the stretch of the Malecón that goes from the Fortress of La Punta, to the proximity of Ameijeiras Hospital to appreciate the unprejudiced creative, joyful enjoyment by people in contact with the unique pieces of sculpture, installation, painting or architecture that the artists have displayed in this singular edge of town.
Juan Delgado included this time the participation to foreign artists, so that the cast of artists is a heterogeneous one in every sense. Cuban artists living in the country, the young, the not so young, and some already established. Cuban artists that have resided elsewhere for some time as well as foreign artists, from Europe, Africa and the Caribbean basically. A mixture that has generated a unique convergence of artistic proposals.
But in all cases it is evident the intent of the creators to contribute with their aesthetic output to the magic inherent to Havana’s Malecón. No other area of Havana favors such a rich interaction among pedestrians. Those people spread along the edge of town are indifferent to nothing. They want to grasp the strange aspect of some of the sculpted works. People are not just contented with looking, the pieces must be touched, figure out what they are made of. Everyone takes a picture, in couples, in groups, next to the attractive novelty. Children hallucinate with what in their eyes must look like giant toys. Parents try to make some sense out of the works for their children. The young ones discuss among themselves what they seem to understand.
In brief, people enjoy, wonder, and have a different aesthetic experience of the space. That is the true and most important show. The spontaneity with which people can relate to art, without even being aware of what they are doing.
The Havana Biennial then has along the Malecón an excellent show window of what has been termed as main curatorial intention: to move the artistic actions or pieces beyond their traditional spaces for art, bringing in the architecture of the city, the design, the interaction and direct communication with the public, taking part in the dynamics in which the habitat is inserted, thus promoting a true insertion of art in society.