AWARDS
Cuban artist protests Decree 349 as Miss Bienal in Trafalgar Square
31 Oct 2018
BY LEWIS JENNINGS
Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara as Miss Bienal

Award-winning Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara donned flamboyant carnival attire as he unleashed his character Miss Bienal upon an unsuspecting Trafalgar Square on 26 October to protest against Decree 349, a law which threatens artistic expression in Cuba.

Expressing his surprise at being allowed to demonstrate in a public area without interference from authorities, he said: “People stop and stare, you know, but police don’t arrest me. It is strange because this wouldn’t happen in Cuba.”

Previously Alcántara was arrested for organising a concert against Decree 349, alongside Yanelyz Nuñez Leyva. If imposed on December 1, the law will see Cuba’s Ministry of Culture gain more power to censor art, issue fines and confiscate materials.

His character, Miss Bienal, takes inspiration from dancers of the famous Tropicana Cabaret and cliches about Cuba. He plans to perform as Miss Bienal around the world, and could recently be found parading the streets of Madrid.

Sue Bingham, country coordinator for Cuba at Amnesty International, was on hand to show her support. She said: “It’s important for the Cuban artists to be here today in Trafalgar Square because this is such an iconic place in London and they wanted to make sure that they bring their message to the very heart of the UK.”

Alcántara and Nuñez run the Museum of Dissidence, a public art project celebrating dissent in Cuba, and were the recipients of the 2018 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship for Arts. The activists finally received their accolades earlier this month after a seven-month battle to gain entry into the UK. The intimate ceremony was held at Metal arts centre in Chalkwell Hall, Southend.

Index joins show of solidarity with Cuba’s jailed artists: “Art should not be criminalised”

Index on Censorship joined others at the Tate Modern today in a show of solidarity with those artists arrested in Cuba for peacefully protesting Decree 349, a law that will severely limit artistic freedom in the country

A global call: No to Cuba’s Decree 349

The decree does not include anything new to the current practice of the Cuban government, but it does offer a legal cover to a reactionary, ancient and regressive practice

Cuba: Index calls for the immediate release of artists arrested for peacefully protesting law that will limit artistic freedom

About Latest Posts Lewis JenningsEditorial Assistant at Index on CensorshipLewis Jennings is editorial assistant at Index on Censorship. He is the 2018 recipient of the Tim Hetherington fellowship. Latest posts by Lewis Jennings (see all) Mapping Media Freedom: “Journalism has become one of the most dangerous professions in the world” – 12 November Cuban artist […]

Cuban artists arrested while protesting Decree 349

Cuban artists Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and Yanelys Nuñez Leyva, members of the Index-award winning Museum of Dissidence, were arrested in Havana on 3 December, along with the performance artist Tania Bruguera

Lewis Jennings

Editorial Assistant at Index on Censorship
Lewis Jennings is editorial assistant at Index on Censorship. He is the 2018 recipient of the Tim Hetherington fellowship.

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