Andrew W. Mellon Predoctoral Fellow (2011-2013) at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA), National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Founded in 1984, the Havana Biennale is a thematic, international arts event initially created to be an alternative (Third World/Tricontinental) arts festival. The event has transformed over the decades: in the 1990s it had to respond to the economic crisis of the Special Period, and since then it has adapted to a changing tourism-based economy as well as the growing presence of an international art market. Taking his title from the performance “Conga Irreversible” by artist collective Los Carpinteros, Rivera’s presentation explores how the 11th Biennale transforms the city while also relying on various political and economic contexts. With the official theme of the Biennale being art practices and social imaginaries, his presentation focuses on how Cuban and international artists and curators rework various spaces throughout the city, reflecting on Cuban realities today. Further, Rivera explores how exhibitions and performances speak to growing relations with the U.S., as well as the role of the art market/art world in transforming the role of artist and art within Cuba today.