Curator Jesús Fuenmayor, biennial director Cristóbal Zapata, and curator Félix Suazo. Photo: Cuenca Biennial.

Organizers of Ecuador’s Cuenca Biennial Urge Government to Release Funds for Exhibition

The organizers of the Cuenca Biennial in Ecuador have written an open letter to the government expressing their “enormous worry” over its delay in distributing the $100,000 that have been allocated for the exhibition. Without the funds, “it will be impossible to inaugurate the next edition of the biennial,” the letter reads.

Slated to open on November 23 and run through February 3, 2019, the exhibition will include the work of fifty-three artists, including Diego Barboza, Jorge Eduardo Eielson, and María José Machado. “It’s incredible that the most important cultural event in the country—for its history, prestige, impact, national, and international role, for the interest it sparks in the community—doesn’t have state contributions squared away,” the biennial’s director, Cristóbal Zapata, told the Art Newspaper. “We have not cancelled anything—we hope we won't have to,” he added. “We are going to put our body and soul into doing the biennial.”

In the past, the biennial has received up to $300,000 from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. This year’s allotment of $100,000 is the smallest amount of funding the biennial has received since it was founded in 1987 (its organizers expect the exhibition to cost around $1 million). In response to the letter, Ronald Verdesoto—the director of the Institute for the Promotion of Arts, Innovation, and Creativity, which administers monies for cultural events—said that the biennial should see the funds in early September. He also claims that the decrease in the amount of money the exhibition is receiving is the result of current austerity measures imposed by the administration of Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno.

Curated by Jesús Fuenmayor and Félix Suazo, the fourteenth Cuenca Biennial will be titled “Living Structures: Art as a Plural Experience.” Named after a work by the Brazilian artist Lygia Clark, it will focus on “the understanding of art as a life experience.” In the curatorial statement featured on the exhibition’s website, Fuenmayor wrote, “It is no longer an artist whose ultimate goal is the production of objects, but a cultural producer who, having different languages ​​and artistic strategies, generates multiple types of experiences in the bystander-viewer.”