Study Abroad/Off-Campus: Cuba: Society in Transition
January 7-17, 2017*
*Note: Dates subject to change
This is a class about artistic practice and cultural policy in the context of a relatively underdeveloped and isolated society, which has been governed, for two generations, by a centralized socialist state and which is currently embarking on a process of radical and unpredictable change. A principal goal of our visit is to understand the ways that those contextual factors have influenced the idea of art, the training of artists, the development and implementation of cultural policy, the circulation of artworks in the global market and their reception both domestically and internationally. By coming to understand these dynamics in the Cuban context, the goal is to help students understand the ways in which their own contexts inform the ways they choose to work and think about their own professional practice, and to become more open to understanding and exploring unfamiliar artistic traditions.
This is a study trip about contemporary art and cultural policy in Cuba. It will consist of an intensive set of meetings with a variety of people, in order to understand the conditions for artmaking on the island, how that work is circulated and received, and how it is administered. Meetings will include artists (both established and emerging, both ‘official’ and independent); curators (museum-based and independent); prominent intellectuals, officials from the Havana biennial, the Ministry of Culture, the City Historian’s office and other agencies; independent researchers and others. We will also visit museums and galleries, and religious and historic sites. In addition to contemporary art, we will also be looking at AfroCuban culture and at the legacy of modernism in Havana architecture.
Since early in the 19th century, Cuba's cultural production has far exceeded what might be normal for a small, underdeveloped and perennially beset island nation. Contemporary culture there is an extraordinary mix that reflects the country's historical contacts with European modernism, African traditions, US popular culture, a homegrown version of state socialism, Soviet orthodox Marxism, and, through all of that, a healthy dose of particularly Cuban poetics, skepticism, ardor and humor.
As a socialist country with a rich heritage of cultural excellence, Cuba is an extraordinary place to study the interactions between local conditions and a globalized art world. Cuban cultural policies have given rise to ambitious artistic programs and an extraordinary network of artists and intellectuals: over the decades, though, they have also precipitated crises related to governmental control of creative expression. We will gain inside views into the complex art ecologies that have evolved in Havana, through conversations with artists, curators, gallery directors, administrators and government officials. We will focus primarily on visual art, but will also include historic preservation, AfroCuban culture and architecture in our program, in order to understand as much as possible about the overall situation for culture on the island.
Credits: 3 credits ARTHI (4000 level) and/or 3 credits STUDIO (4000 level)
Rachel Weiss, Arts Administration & Policy
Elizabeth Cerejido, Arts Administration & Policy
Program fee: Approx. $3,300 (including round-trip flight from Miami to Havana, accommodation, admissions, ground transport, and some group meals. Not including airfare to Miami).
PLUS Tuition cost per credit:
Undergraduate—$1,497 per credit hour;
Graduate—$1,580 per credit hour.
Instructor consent required. Submit Application Form Winter 2017 Study Trip - Cuba: Society in Transition to faculty for pre-approval to register.
Online registration begins: October 12, 2016
Deposit due at registration: $525
Tuesday, September 6, 12:10 p.m.
MacLean Center, 112 S. Michigan Ave., suite MC 112
Thursday, September 22, 4:15 p.m.
MacLean Center, 112 S. Michigan Ave., suite MC 112
From last trip's course evaluations:
- It was a life changing experience.
- Rachel was the perfect instructor to lead this trip, her insight and connections to the Havana and Cuban art scene, along with her understanding of the political climate and culture of Cuba enriched the entire experience. She was also very accommodating and helpful in directing students towards experiences and ideas which would help them develop their own practice.
- There was little wasted time in Cuba, and the expectations upon returning were very high. Putting together any sort of meaningful work within a week really pushed me to start and work quickly.
- The trip was well organized from logistics to programming and kept a rigorous pace for a ten day period. We had the opportunity to experience the current state of Cuba post Utopia in real time, observe cultural differences, and gained an understanding of our own structure at home by learning from others in another country. The artists, curators, and art world personalities we met were a result of carefully cultivated relationships which resulted in valuable exchanges for us as students, providing a timely lens into the contemporary culture and rapid changes occurring in Cuba today.
- Don't be daunted by the lack of internet or toilet paper, everything else on the trip makes up for it.
- I found the supplemental reading to be more helpful than the required (although it was really helpful for a wider context)... I just think Rachel doesn't want to require the purchase/reading of her book... But I really wish I had finished it before we left, It was the best way to prepare.
- Do it! It is an experience unlike any other and will shape and guide you in your future efforts be they in fine arts, architecture, or whatever. This trip will influence and move you.
- Pack lighter!