The Biennial Project was honored to be chosen for the 00Bienal de La Habana, the first Cuban art biennial to be organized independently of any state entity. We went to partake this past May. Within minutes of arriving at our hotel in Havana we immediately found ourselves in one of those 1950s cars you see in the tourist books about Cuba and we were on our way to our first 00Bienal de La Habana event. We gave our taxi driver the address and he did not seem 100% sure where it was and we, for certain, did not know where we were going. We were unclear even if we were going to a gallery, someone’s studio or someone’s house. None-the-less, we enjoyably buzzed through the colorful, modernist, somewhat run down streets of Havanna and we were thrilled to be in Cuba for this event. The closer we got to the venue the less certain our taxi driver was that this is where we wanted to be in this particular neighborhood. It wasn’t until we saw 4 women dressed, in what seemed to us as art gallery opening attire, did we know we had indeed arrived to find our community.
We entered through a courtyard where one of the artist’s homes is located. His house was going to be the main venue for showing, It was a lively, positive atmosphere and the local neighbors mixed well with the artists for a festive art reception. That artist whose home we were inhabiting was the alluring and luminous Nonardo Perea. We had recently friended Nonardo on Facebook and he was one of the artists we most wanted to meet. This evening we also met the organizers Yanelys Nuñez Leyva and Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and they could not have been more hospitable, engaging, charismatic and attractive.
Nonardo presented his work on the walls of his house in every room. We enjoyed walking into his bedroom and admit to peeping into his closet. We noticed illustrations we enjoyed on his refrigerator and later in the night he actually gave them to us as gifts. A lot of Nonardo’s work revolved around gay and transsexual themes and he expressed this through some scintillating manipulated photos, collages, illustrations and even a video. Most of them, he used him self as the model. We were floored. We loved his work as much as we knew we would love him. He also has two of the cutest dogs you may ever run across.
Another artist showing this evening was Francisco Mëndez. His performance involved locking himself in the bathroom and shouting ‘Ya me canse’ at the top of his lungs over and over again while the reception went on outside of the bathroom, in Nonardo’s bedroom. Ya me canse means ‘I’m tired of this’ which is in reference to what a Mexican Police chief said while looking for the bodies of missing people. It is what the Mexican people think over and over and feel nobody hears them. It was a very powerful enactment.
Also worth mentioning was the fact that the participants of this Bienal were harassed by the government of Cuba. The Cuban artists were subject to arrests, interrogations and threats. We met an artist there that night who was originally supposed to be in the Bienal but pulled out in the last minute in fear of threats he received about his employment. Cuba is not an easy place to express oneself.
It was fantastic party. The hosts of 00Bienal de La Habana could not have been warmer or more welcoming. Never letting our glasses be less the half full, checking on us, engaging us in conversation, introducing us around. They basically shared their lives with us. We also rejoiced in the fact that we were in a real Cuban neighborhood., one tourists probably never entertain to visit. We bought tamales from a bucket, walked around the neighborhood and almost got into a game of domino with some of the older men in the streets."
This month’s Fan of the Month is one of the coolest artists around – Kelly Jo Shows. She’s really just too amazing, and if she weren’t also so super nice we would be kinda jealous of her. OK, we admit, we are still jealous of her, but in a good way.
She lives in one of The Biennial Project’s Favorite Towns – Kennebunk Maine (a frequent vacation spot for creative types like us), and she has the house and studio of our dreams. It’s totally gorgeous, and chock full of her awesome artwork. And she has rabbits! And ducks!
She has this cool series of paintings called “Sole of the Artist". Here’s how she describes them: “This is a unique and untraditional collection of portraits. Rather than focusing on the face of the artist, I'm painting different scale images of their shoes. Shoes tell a lot about a person and they speak volumes about the lives we lead. They develop a character over the years & become a visual roadmap to the experiences you have had and the places you have traveled. I'm interested in capturing that character.”
She’s painted lots of interesting artist’s shoes – including some really famous ones! (Not that things like that matter to us here at Biennial Project Productions, but if they did, how about Ed Ruscha and William Wegman for starters?) And, you guessed it, The Biennial Project is proud to be counted among the soles that Kelly Jo has collected! Check out the BEAUTIFUL painting at the lower left – or BETTER YET, meet Kelly Jo and see this gorgeous paintingat the upcoming Bizarre Artist Happenings presented by The Biennial Project opening July 19th at Atlantic Works Gallery!
Here’s to you Kelly Jo –
ridiculously talented artist,
super cool person,
and Biennial Project Fan!
Check out more of Kelly Jo’s work at:
And don’t forget to come to The Show of the Season!
Invite to Bizarre Artist Happenings
Hey kids, rock and roll, Happy Goddamned February! In the spirit of the month, we have selected Mr. Victor Peterson as The Biennial Project’s Fan of the Month for February. There was really no choice about it – Victor put the competition to shame by sending us, by Actual Snail Mail (who knew they still had that?) a good old-fashioned Fan Letter. And what a fan letter it is. We don’t think we could truly do it justice by describing it, so here it is in it’s entirety, in Victor’s original hand-writing. We’re good, but no way even we could make this up...
Of course when we got this letter, we immediately blew it up poster size and used our contacts to get it put it up in a Chic Downtown Gallery Space here in Boston. During the opening, who should walk in but Mr. Victor Peterson Himself – so we prevailed upon him to pose in front of his now famous Fan Letter. Talk about your post-modern-irony-and-layers-of-self-reference-type situation!
And come to find out, when we perused our archives, we had previous video documentation of our now number one fan – aka Person Aroused by Anna….
Victor, here’s to you, and here’s hoping you get that gig curating majors shows that you so obviously deserve!!!!!!!!! We’ll be waiting!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kisses, TBP
The last year has been just an amazing time for us here at The Biennial Project! From Venice to the Whitney to Worcester, we have participated in some of the world’s most celebrated art extravaganzas, and hobnobbed with some pretty special (did we say famous?) folks. There were so many memorable moments!
But the highlight of it all would have to be our personal private meeting in February with brand new super good friend Gary Carrion-Muyayari at the Members and VIP’s Only Opening of the 2010 Whitney Biennial. Gary was understandably busy that day, and was available for photo opps with only the most important of the many important artists and big shots there, so this meeting was such an honor. Oh, the excitement – all we can say is that this is truly what art is all about!!!
But alas, as all that is flesh must fade away, even Really Prestigious Biennial Exhibits must come to an end. With the closing of Gary’s Biennial last week, we wanted to salute our special friend as The Biennial Project Fan of the Month. The world may forget you Gary, but we never will. Gary Carrion-Muyayari, art lover, noted curator, cute 28 year old, Biennial Project Fan, here’s to you!
The Biennial Project has the coolest fans in the world! As globe-trotting International Art Rock Stars, we travel the planet meeting the Glitterati. Starting today we will share our best fan photo every month. We thought long and hard (ahem!) about who should be the first Fan Of The Month – and decided to lead with nudity. Rick Dorff – amazing artist, deep thinker, and Biennial Project Fan – here’s to you!