The Approach

Veronica Cuesta Uncategorized

January 6th, 4-7pm.

Uniting Cuban and American artists to envision possible futures between their two countries, students from Havana’s Instituto Superior de Arte and California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) join with professional artists for an afternoon of art and storytelling on January 6th, 4-7pm, at Centro Cultural Español.

The exhibition, featuring creative documentation of previous El Acercamiento/ The Approach projects and artist-led storytelling tours, launches the final year of the three-year transnational project with events in Miami, Havana and Los Angeles.

El Acercamiento/The Approach begins its culminating year with a one-day exhibition (4-7pm) at the Centro Cultural Español in Miami, Florida. Each year, since the project launched in 2015, students and professional artists from Havana’s Instituto Superior de Arte and California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Los Angeles have created, collaborated and presented original visual and performing artworks in Miami, Havana and Los Angeles. This ongoing exchange has inspired a dynamic multi-city series of public dialogues, exhibitions, performances and urban interventions that imagines possible futures and cultural collaborations between the two countries. Exhibitions are being planned for March in Havana and May in Los Angeles. El Acercamiento/The Approach is a project of California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) Center for New Performance (CNP)/Duende CalArts. The exhibition is curated and designed by Aubree Lynn and Evelyn Serrano.

Serving to document El Acercamiento’s preceding three years, a sea of flags on nine foot poles, bearing images of past projects will fill the gallery of Miami’s Centro Cultural Español. During the one-evening exhibition, El Acercamiento artists will lead story-telling tours of the installation.

In Havana, “el acercamiento” is the slow and cautious act of getting closer, a term used to describe the process of normalizing relations between Cuba and the United States. “The last three years, in particular, have taken us through a wild foreign- policy roller coaster ride punctuated by the re-opening of the U.S. Embassy in La Habana, the historic visit of President Obama to Cuba, the death of Fidel Castro, mysterious sonic attacks, and new travel restrictions designed by the Trump administration,” says Evelyn Serrano, a CalArts professor and one of the project founders. Serrano, who was born and raised in Cuba, explains El Acercamiento’s mission as one of seeking modes of connection and repair through creative collaboration. “El Acercamiento aims to engage in a process of healing after so many decades of divisive politics between Cuba and the U.S.”

Thanks largely to key partnerships between CaArts and artists, faculty, and students from Instituto Superior de Arte and Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes San Alejandro in Havana this transnational project has thrived. Cuban and American artists involved in El Acercamiento/The Approach have given shape to a multiplicity of potential futures through creative explorations of the thawing relations and what such relations imply. Works in the project have included Shaina Lynn Simmons’ Afrofuturo, a live, multimedia performance-installation which examines Afro-Cuban and Afro-American female experience; Horas Comunes, a work by experimental vocalist Carmina Escobar consisting of two synchronous performances from remote locations in Havana and Miami; and Cuban artist Aissa Santizo’s Wet Steps honors those who have perished in the journey from Cuba to the U.S. with a minute of silence at the edge of the sea.