May 10, 2018

The Cuban government is cracking down on artists participating in an alternative biennale in the country.

Founded by artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and curator Yanelys Nuñez Leyva, the “#00Bienal de la Habana” is a 10-day art biennale that opened Saturday. Originally slated as an alternative to the state-sanctioned Havana Biennale, which was delayed until 2019 following Hurricane Maria, the #00Bienal attracted 140 artists from inside Cuba and across the world. But it has also attracted the attention of the Cuban government, which has grown increasingly wary of the ability of artists to find support from anywhere other than the state, wrote artist Coco Fusco in Hyperallergic.
The Cuban Artists and Writers Union issued a statement denouncing the #00Bienal one day before it opened, while students at a Cuban art school were required to watch a video “denouncing the event,” according to Hyperallergic. Fusco reported that Cuban artists slated to participate were warned that they would lose their official accreditation, which permits them to not have a formal job. Foreign artists also reportedly faced threats—the Spanish artist Diego Gil was told he had to report to Cuban immigration officials, who warned him that if he participated in any cultural events he would not be allowed to leave the country.