The Havana Biennial is a city-wide art festival that happens every two years – or therabouts. The 2015 Biennial opened on the 22nd of May and we were there for various events and installations. Suffice it to say that the city becomes an art gallery, both inside and out. The photo above is an installation of snorkeling masks mounted upside down and was featured at La Cabana, the fortress across the bay from Havana. We spent our third morning here, meandering through the fortresses hundreds of small rooms; each featuring works of a different artist. The location of the fortress is breathtaking and the setting was the perfect backdrop for exploring and delving into the myriad of different artistic expressions on display. The heat of the day gave way to cool breezes and dark interiors where works made from found objects were intermingled with those created in oil, acrylic and wood. There were sculptures outdoors, playful homages to childhood fantasies and installations that blew in the wind. It was an absolutely breathtaking display of talent, genius and determination of both the artists and the curators of this monster event.
After the beautiful morning, we welcomed some mojitos and Cuban music at Paladar Sant’ Angel in Plaza Vieja. We got caught up in the spirit of music, dance and drink for a few hours, while we enjoyed grilled lobster on skewers, served with fresh fruit cocktail for dessert – perfect on a hot day after all of the morning’s excitement. Following lunch, we had a tour of the Four Plazas of Old Havana, led by our fabulous guide, Aymee. We meandered through the streets of Havana on foot, stopping to peek into churches, shop windows and at the statue of the Gentleman from Paris, whose story is as interesting to hear the second time, as it was the first. My favorite plaza is the Plaza of San Francisco de Asis. It boasts the sculpture I love most in Havana; The Conversation. That sculpture was installed at the last Biennial in Havana in 2012. We ended our tour of the Four Plazas in Plaza de Armas, then returned to our hotel for a much needed rest. Following a brief interlude at the Hotel Nacional for sunset mojitos, we made it to dinner, followed by a fantastic performance of the Buena Vista Social Club at Cafe La Taberna. It was an absolutely fabulous evening of salsa, samba and sweating, as we watched our friend, Charles take over the dance floor with his cheeky display of machismo. We were all impressed, as he threw his partner into the air and caught her, time and again. Our friend, Kelly got into the act as well, as she shimmied her way into the evening with her dance partner. Mojitos and Buccanero beers flowed as we watched both the professionals and non-professionals give us a night to remember.