Cuban Art in the Era of Decree 349
In Cuba, Decree 349 criminalises the artistic dissent and independent art production. The controversial law is censorship at its worst and artists in Cuba and now world wide have voiced their objections against the law. The issue gained international momentum when Tania Brugeura was arrested and released earlier in 2019 for protesting the law. The artist, who was to exhibit at and attend the Kochi Biennale in India decided to stay back until the artists of her country were able to get a similar platform for expression.
The issue of censorship is as old as the practice of art itself. Cuba, being a communist-run country does not permit the freedom of expression – vocal, visual or otherwise. Resultantly, many Cuban galleries have either shut down or morphed into artist studios that trade.
The Havana Biennale opened for its 13th edition on 12th April with the theme “Construction of the Possible”. The exhibition, curated by Nelson Herrera will showcase the works of around 200 artists from 15 countries. While many artists and galleries may have been forced into submission, there are still some who dare to exhibit their politically charged artworks. But in a state that accuses one of being anti-nationalistic for expressing, how does an artist create?
“The most refined expression of the violence of the Cuban State is self-censorship.”
– Tania Brugeura
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