The project, realised in the 1960s, is the protagonist of the Cuba Pavilion 

XXII Triennale di Milano, 1 March – 1 September 2019

After 50 years, Cuba returns to the Triennale di Milano



The project, realised in the 1960s, is the protagonist of the Cuba Pavilion 

XXII Triennale di Milano, 1 March – 1 September 2019

February 27 2019. 50 years after last participating (XIV Triennale, 1968), and on the five-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the city of Havana (San Cristóbal de La Habana – 1519), Cuba is back at the Triennale di Milano for the XXII International Exhibition, entitled “Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival”.

In the context of the exhibition, which questions the role of design in the difficult relationship between man and nature, the Cuba Pavilion showcases the extraordinary experience of the National Art Schools of Havana. The complex was built in response to the wish of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara that Cuba should offer teaching of the arts to young people from Cuba and all developing countries. The Schools are unconventional examples of organic architecture, that established a relationship of mutual exchange with the tropical nature that surrounds them. Despite the problems and the inevitable transformations that the buildings have undergone over time, they are still a fertile, stimulating place for creativity and the emergence of new talent.

To retell the past, present, and future of National Art Schools of Havana, Pavilion curator Jorge Fernández Torres (in collaboration with a broad working group) used new content created by the students and professors of the ISA (Universidad de las Artes): a suggestive series of images and videos that go beyond classical historical/architectural iconography, documenting from the inside the results of an exemplary and still lively process of integration and cultural contamination.

The exhibition’s appeal is also linked to the Italian contribution, both to the emergence of the Art Schools and to the ongoing activities for their relaunching. The five different buildings – designed and built between 1961 and 1965 – were developed by Cuban architect Ricardo Porro together with Italian Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti, who shared the projects (School of Plastic Arts and Music – Ricardo Porro; School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance – Vittorio Garatti, School of Dramatic Arts – Roberto Gottardi). In an atmosphere of complete creative freedom, the three young architects designed buildings that embody the essence of “Cubanness”, yet each retains a personal touch. Their contribution was decisive for the development of a complex that is fascinating and original, but also able to withstand the ravages of time, remaining open to further restoration and completion interventions (only two of the five buildings were completed at that time).

The exhibition at the XXII Triennale is thus the opportunity to present two recent Italian projects aimed at the revitalisation of the Art Schools complex, which is included in the World Monument Fund Watch List (2000) and the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List (2003). The first project centres on the development of a Conservation and Management Plan for the entire complex. Coordinated by the Politecnico di Milano with Princeton University, the University of Parma, Assorestauro, and the Vittorio Garatti Committee, the project is funded by the Getty Foundation as part of the programme Keeping it Modern . The second project is funded by AICS (Italian Agency for Development Cooperation) under the umbrella of MAECI (Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation), and involves the restoration, structural reinforcement and renovation of Roberto Gottardi’s School of Theatre, with technical assistance from the DiDA department of the University of Florence.

The Cuba Pavilion at the XXII Triennale di Milano is commissioned by the Ministerio de Cultura de Cuba/ Consejo Nacional Artes Plásticas, represented by Commissioner Norma Rodríguez Derivet. The curator is Jorge Fernández Torres, Director of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Cuba, with Christian Zecchin and Umberto Zanetti as co-curators. The exhibition is sponsored by the Embajada de Cuba en Roma and the Consulado de Cuba en Milán.

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