11th BIENAL DE HAVANA, CUBA
MACSAN EXHIBITION SPACE
SAN AGUSTIN, HAVANA, CUBA
PROJECT LEAD: LAUREN ELDER
COLLABORATING WITH BOOK & WHEEL WORKS
The curators of the 11th Bienal ambitiously decided to diffuse the exhibtions throughout the entire
metropolitan area, bringing art to the people and visitors to new neighborhoods. Old laundries, old theaters and other public spaces were commandered.
Elder was invited to form a team from the Bay Area by the directors of LASA (Laboratorios Artisticos de San Agustin) who were overseeing an international program of artists to be produced in the "first and only museum of contemporary art" on the island.... read ironic Cuban humor. MACSAN was a repurposed industrial structure within their neighborhood on the far western edge of the city. Many residents, seeing the lack of wall space, asked "Where will you hang the paintings?" The answer It is not about painting; it is about the creative exchange we generate with you, our neighbors.
The process required a 2 week preliminary residency to develop a theme. Our focus became the new government initiative to permit independent food production for profit. Up until then, farms were state-run enterprises. We discovered an astounding number and variety of "walled gardens" throughout the area and invited producers to participate in a FoodShed map. Our project had many other components.
Farm to Table: From our grant, we paid local growers for produce that was prepared together with five local families and served in the "museum's cafe". An emphasis was placed on vegetable and fruit dishes as an alternative to the standard diet of rice-beans-pork. California-Cuba fusion was the culinary theme and we encouraged decorative flourish. The Chef del Dia and Servers were provided with Elder's custom-designed aprons. Utensils were offered as thank you gifts at the conclusion of the project.
Elder produced a Menu pamphlet and lastly, a digital archive of organic farming articles was left on donated computers for the local library. Book and Wheel Works (San Francisco) partnered in the map production and the digital archive.