For the first time, a wide selection of the works from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Foundation travels beyond U.S. borders and, against all odds, lands in the transitional hall of the Museum of Universal Art as part of the Eleventh Havana Biennial.
An ambitious project? CIFO: A Multiple Glance is not only the most extensive exhibit of contemporary world art presented in Cuba. For the first time, a wide selection of the works from the Ela Fontanals-Cisneros Foundation travels beyond U.S. borders and, against all odds, lands in the transitional hall of the Museum of Universal Art as part of the Eleventh Havana Biennial.
From the perspective of contemporary art as a plural form that comprises multiple discourses, here we have supports, themes and poetics coming together that are as dissimilar as the artists themselves.
Artists of unquestionable international renown among the vast visual production include, among others, for example, Mexican Gabriel Orozco and that living legend of performance named Marina Abramovic, both special guests.
But what’s completely new about this exhibit, comments Rubén del Valle, president of the Organizing Committee, is precisely the monumentality of the slightly more than 80 pieces on display.
“This transversal and trans-historical glance comprises five related groups of themes in which each spectator may organize their tour and freely find, through the logic of their own glance, the conceptual links suggested,” states curator Osbel Suárez in his notes to the collection.
The section on Contemporary Masters reviews some of the art movements that emerged during the second half of the 20th century, with important participation from Vito Acconci, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Jannis Kounellis…
One of the most complete sections of the project is that dedicated to the new German photography. The so-called School of Düsseldorf had Thomas Ruff among its most reformist members, whose experimental images – and in this case the fusion of archival and recent images – are a true visual jewel.
Another asset of the curatorial selection is the participation of Latin American figures headed by Brazilian Ernesto Neto, the highest exponent of neo-concrete art – a movement that transforms the spectator into the main character of the work.
Also worth mentioning is the work of one of the few exponents of painting-painting, Argentinean Guillermo Kutica. Specialists distinguish this trend as the most important among the patrimony of the Miami institution; no wonder it is the one most represented in the Havana exhibition.
If something merits particular attention, it’s CIFO’s effort to promote the best art of the region, and the will to clear the way for maintaining a cultural exchange that enables the dissemination abroad of work by Cuban artists.
Photography, video and installation call for reflection when traditional and modern combine in Forever Bicycles, by multi-talented Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. His installation, consisting of 74 bikes, represents to him the metaphor for change.
The out of focus images of Japanese Hiroshi Sugimoto are no less attractive, as well as the series Rupture, by Shirin Neshat. These narrations also contain historical-artistic references, as in the case of the video Journey to the Moon in tribute of French filmmaker George Meliès.
With his series Rompecabezas (Puzzles), Félix González Torres investigates the relationships between public and private using a poetic and disturbing language that many interpret as a daring interpretation of conceptual art.
A similar impact is caused by the fragments of Ana Mendieta’s work. She is one of the most exceptional myths of contemporary Cuban art abroad.
In short, CIFO: A Multiple Glance is a luxury opportunity to appraise that universal, heterogeneous, polysemous art that poses the need of the collective construction of meanings and of the individual’s participation in the transformation of a reality at boiling point.
Translated by Olimpia Esperanza Sigarroa Santamarina
Revised by Susana Hurlich