Historic Collaboration Launched with Cuba’s El Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana
Groundbreaking Initiative Includes Major Exhibitions in the U.S. and Cuba, Artist Exchanges, Educational and Public Programs, and a Dual-Language Publication
The Bronx Museum of the Arts and El Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana (MNBA) are launching an unprecedented joint arts initiative that is the culmination of years of planning and collaboration. Wild Noise: Artwork from The Bronx Museum of the Arts and El Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes represents the most extensive visual arts exchange between the two countries in more than 50 years, and will include major exhibitions at MNBA and the Bronx Museum; an artist exchange with U.S. artist Mary Mattingly and Cuban artist Humberto Diaz; a teen exchange program; a series of educational and public programs; and the creation of a dual-language publication that will extend the impact of Wild Noise beyond the audiences that participate directly in the initiative.
The launch of Wild Noise will be concurrent with the 12th Bienal de La Habana, with the exhibition of more than 90 works by over 50 artists from the Bronx Museum’s permanent collection on view at MNBA from May 21 through July 12, 2015. Wild Noise will feature works created from the 1960s to the present day that reveal the ways contemporary artists are addressing questions of identity, urban life, and community. The initiative will also send for the first time over 90 works from MNBA’s permanent collection to the U.S. to be presented at the Bronx Museum in fall 2016. The title of the initiative—Wild Noise—is taken from a Victor Hugo poem, “Ma vie est déjà dans l’ombre de la mort,” and refers to the sublimity and chaos of urban spaces, “the wild noise where infinity begins.” The theme resonates with this year’s Bienal de La Habana, which will be held at locations across the city, integrating into the urban fabric of Havana and its communities.
At the Bronx Museum, Wild Noise is organized by Executive Director Holly Block, and Director of Programs Sergio Bessa. At the MNBA, the project is spearheaded by Director Ana Cristina Perez and curated by Corina Matamoros, Curator of Contemporary Cuban Art, and Aylet Ojeda Jequin, Curator of Contemporary Cuban Art and Naïve Art.
“We are at the threshold of a new kind of relationship between Cuba and the U.S.—both politically and artistically,” said Executive Director of the Bronx Museum Holly Block. “The Bronx Museum has been working with the arts community from Cuba since the launch of the first Bienal de La Habana in 1984 and we are committed to continuing to build the cultural dialogue between our two countries.”
Wild Noise at El Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, May 21 – July 12, 2015
The exhibition will focus on urban life and communities, and introduce artists, practices, and themes previously little-known in Cuba. More than 90 works from the Bronx Museum’s permanent collection will be on view, including work by over 50 artists including Bronx-born artists Vito Acconci, Lawrence
Weiner, and Glenn Ligon, sculptor and visual artist Willie Cole, photographer Lisa Kahane, sculptors Chakaia Booker and Huma Bhabha, and others.
In addition, Wild Noise will feature over 90 works from MNBA’s permanent collection at The Bronx Museum of the Arts in fall 2016. The exhibition will offer U.S. students, scholars, artists, travelers, members of the New York community, and Bronxites the opportunity to view the breadth of contemporary art from Cuba, providing a rare look at the range of artists who have responded to Cuba’s unique political, economic, social, and cultural conditions since the 1960s.
Each museum has chosen one artist to take part in an international artist exchange to be conducted over a four- to six-week period leading up to opening of each exhibition. The artist exchange will begin with Mary Mattingly—a New York-based artist and former participant in the Bronx Museum artist-ambassador program smARTpower—traveling to Cuba to create a new work for Wild Noise and interact with audiences there through public programs. Cuban artist Humberto Diaz has been selected to participate in the 2016 exhibition at the Bronx Museum, creating new art work for that show.
Using as a model the Bronx Museum’s successful Venice Teen Exchange (implemented for the 2013 U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennial), the exchange program will connect members of the Bronx Museum Teen Council and teens in Havana through a series of platforms, including mail exchanges, jointly produced “zines,” and other collaborations investigating social issues that affect youth in both cities.
A dual-language print and digital publication will highlight works from each exhibition, providing in-depth examinations of the exhibitions’ themes, contributing scholarship and offering fresh interpretations of the Bronx Museum and MNBA’s collections. The publication will be accessible online through the Bronx Museum’s and MNBA’s websites.
In addition, the Bronx Museum and MNBA are currently planning additional programmatic initiatives, including educational programs, concerts, performances, film screenings, artist talks, and workshops that explore the themes of Wild Noise.