FIELD REPORT FROM CUBA
Founded in Venice by artistic director Paolo Rosso in 2011, Microclima focuses on art, nature, and the public sphere. It is housed in the Serra dei Giardini, a greenhouse in the Biennale Gardens that was built in 1894 to preserve the exotic plants that decorated the first International Exhibitions of Art.
Microclima’s Cuban research program was started in 2015 as part of the European Union’s Los Caminos del Café restoration of coffee plantations, creation of a heritage museum, and promotion of sustainable tourism in Santiago, Cuba. Along with local artists selected by the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba, Microclima selected Gediminas Urbonas, Nomeda Urbonas, Vuk Ćosić, Irena Woelle, and Alessandra Messali to create projects for the people of Santiago.
Gediminas and Nomeda Urbonas (Vilnius, Lithuania) are artists and educators. They co-founded Urbonas Studio, which researches ecological, economic, social, and political conditions of countries in transition. Their work has been published and presented in numerous international exhibitions. Gediminas Urbonas is an Associate Professor and the Director of the MIT Program in Art, Culture, and Technology. Nomeda Urbonas is a fellow at MIT and a PhD researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology..
Vuk Ćosić and Irena Woelle (Ljubljana, Slovenia) are researching how urban sustainability practices and “offline digital creativity” in Cuba provide solutions to social problems experienced in more globalized countries. Vuk Ćosić is an internationally acclaimed internet artist and co-founder of the Ljubljana Digital Media Lab. He has exhibited his art and delivered lectures in museums and universities around the world. Irena Woelle is a graphic designer who is active in the fields of urban gardening, urban bee-keeping, and self-sufficiency. She has coordinated several community gardening projects around Ljubljana, participated in international ecological conferences, and published texts on culture and progressive NGOs.
Alessandra Messali (Venice, Italy) received her BA from the Fine Arts Academy in Venice and her MA in Visual Arts from the University of Venice (IUAV), where she has been Antoni Muntadas’s teaching assistant since 2012. Through theater, music, installation, and video, her work demonstrates how ideas about the world derive from mental representations.