In Cuba, Duke Professor Connects Politics, Art

Duke's Pedro Lasch gave four U.S. congressmen a private tour of a new exhibit in Havana.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, speaks during a tour of an art exhibit in Havana. Udall was part of a four-member congressional delegation visiting Cuba. Sen. Al Franken, far right in the photo, attended as well. Photo courtesy of Pedro Lasch.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, speaks during a tour of an art exhibit in Havana. Udall was part of a four-member congressional delegation visiting Cuba. Sen. Al Franken, far right in the photo, attended as well. Photo courtesy of Pedro Lasch.

Duke Art Professor Pedro Lasch offered a private tour of his latest art exhibit to four members of Congress at the opening of the Havana Biennial this past weekend.

Lasch was presenting a new exhibit at the international art show when he met U.S. senators Al Franken of Minnesota and Tom Udall of New Mexico, and congressmen Raul Grijalva of Arizona and John Larson of Connecticut. The four politicians were in Cuba exploring ways the U.S. can expand trade with the island nation.

Lasch, accompanied by two curators and a handful of other artists, provided a tour of the exhibit, after which they had a private dinner with the congressional delegation.

"It was a wonderful opportunity to engage with US lawmakers on some of our most important political and cultural challenges, especially in the current crossroads of hope and enthusiasm for the normalization of US-Cuba relations. I have long known that Havana is a small but powerful place. So many things of global relevance have happened there in literature, music, art, and politics. I now feel like I have personally witnessed one such moment through this congressional visit coinciding with the Biennal."

Lasch is a professor of art, art history and visual studies at Duke. His art installation is “Islands of Tragedy and Fantasy,” a collection of banners exhibited at the landmark Pabellon Cuba in Havana. The display is part of the Havana Biennial’s section called “Entre, Dentro, Fuera / Between, Inside, Outside,” which explores artistic relationships between Cuba and the United States and is curated by Royce Smith and Dannys Montes de Oca.