'Espacio Aglutinador makes space for independent art'

July 2008 -

""An exhibition of contemporary Korean art that we had scheduled for June 2008 in our independent exhibition space in Espacio Aglutinador and in the new Xoho gallery in Havana, was sabotaged by cultural employees a day before the opening. They forced the curator to relocate the exposition to a gallery that is under the thumb of Cuban government. Unfortunately, this happens on a regular basis." Sandra Ceballos is director-curator and co-founder of Espacio Aglutinador, an independent art gallery that was set up in her house in Havana in 1995.


'We are porno, SI' in Espacio Aglutinador

"At the beginning of the nineties a tendency arose for artists, critics, theoreticians and curators to distance themselves from the official Cuban art circuit. Many artists began displaying and selling their work from home. The government created a registry of independent artists so as to legalise this 'home market'. In the interim, more and more young artists and artists who are just starting out have begun to operate independently. They are being assisted by internationally renowned Cuban artists, curators and gallery owners, and by art exhibition spaces such as Espacio Aglutinador."

In the interim, the Ceballos exhibition space has become an important reference point for cultural Havana because of artist in residence projects and pioneering exhibitions that are organised there. "For the exhibition, We are Porno, Si, which deals with pornographic art, I worked closely with the artists who were displayed. They told me anecdotes and collective ideas sprung up. In a certain sense, they became their own curators this way."

"It would be great if a more intensive dialogue were to arise between the independent art scene and the artists who are more closely affiliated with the government system. Of course, it is utopian to think that artistic quality is the only force that drives the art world. That is not true anywhere in the world, and thus, not in Cuba, either. But it would be great if the established order here in Cuba promoted more than just a small select group of artists. These artists are able to establish themselves outside Cuba thanks to long-term residence permits or they can operate in Cuba itself with the requisite ease and privileges. This group has virtually no idea of what happens outside the art institutes' gates."