In November 2018 a 17 days Short Intensive Programme was set up in Havana (Cuba) by teachers of Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp and ISA, Universidad de las Artes. 10 Belgian students (with a educational background in Photography or Sculpture) were put to work with 5 Cuban art students in international and interdisciplinary teams.
This project started from the relationship (and opposition) between both disciplines –sculpture and photography – in the urban context of Havana, the city where time stood still since the revolution of 1959. Whilst creating sculptures is generally very slow due to the removal or application of materials, photography freezes reality in a fraction of a second. This project aims to make students think about the aspects of time and material in the creative process. Ephemeral temporary sculptures were found or made and photographically documented. The urban reality was viewed in its photographic potential to be transformed into sculptures (or installations). Due to the ‘pause’ of the shutter – the literal stoppage of time – a ‘pose’ arises in the flow of time. Reality becomes construction, a theatre in the decor of history.
The Belgian and Cuban students collaborated in international and interdisciplinary art experiments that led to individual projects. Debates, group critics and individual coaching helped in developing a multidisciplinary discourse on the subject. Results of the Short Intensive Programme were exhibited during the ‘Semana Belga’, an annual cultural festival organized by the Belgian embassy in Havana. All partners involved considered this Short Intensive Programme as exciting and relevant, both from the point of view of their study discipline and from an intercultural point of view.
In January 2019 the (monodisciplinary) South Initiative ‘TIME-LABS’ will start, including all partners that were involved in the Short Intensive Programme. It will focus on the development of social documentary photography projects related to tangible and intangible heritage researched in healthcare, education and urbanization. A Photography Research Centre will be started at the Fototeca de Cuba (a photography museum in Havana) where the photographers will be able to exchange experiences. Digital material and books for a library will be provided coupled with hardware aimed towards helping the Fototeca build a digital archive of the 80.000 historic photos stored at the museum. Workshops for art students and an open symposium will be organized at ISA with lectures by the 8 participating photographers and international specialists in the history of photography.