Our times at ISA ›Cuba› Granma

Forty-five years ago, from the traditional September to the beginning of the school year, students walked through the grounds of the once prohibitive Country Club, converted by the Revolution, since 1962, into the National School of Art of Cubanacán (ENA) and that, in 1976, began to coexist with the brand-new Higher Institute of Art (ISA), for some time here the University of the Arts.

Associated with the creation of the Ministry of Culture that year, Minister Armando Hart Dávalos was involved in its foundation from its doctrinal foundations to convincing great figures of culture to head careers, departments and faculties, while the unforgettable critic served as rector. film Mario Rodríguez Alemán.

Hart’s intellectual status as an educator was decisive. Fidel’s executive arm in the Literacy Campaign, which celebrates its 60th anniversary too quietly and without which we would not simply be the country that we are, Hart received another extremely complex mandate. The creation of an organism without exact precedents destined both to repair the damage caused to the cultural fabric by the errors of the early 70’s, and to expand and solidify the cultivation of art and its reception in Cuba.

The ISA was essential in that assault on heaven, and it soon became a hotbed that began to transform Cuban arts in the 1980s. At the same time, the acronym transcended national borders, not only because dozens of students from other countries were trained there, but because the conceptions of this teaching were confronted, from their particularities, with those of schools, colleges and universities that had a tradition, or began, in the difficult and unique carry of higher-level artistic education.

I see the ISA from the theater, of course, because I entered the then Faculty of Performing Arts 35 years ago, I graduated 30 years ago and I teach a quarter of a century in its continuity as Theater Art, but the tree has never prevented me see the forest.

Enjoy an academy without academicism. From a continuous space of research and experimentation that allowed to establish teachings based on pedagogical traditions and their artistic, Cuban and foreign manifestations. In the same way, it has also been revolutionary ideologically and politically. I remember the open discussions with Carlos Rafael Rodríguez, Hart and other top leaders of the country. The avant-garde dream of participating in everything and everything.

It was also a vortex of high-profile aesthetic disputes due to the reverberation of the dialogue of the Cuban arts with the proposals that took place there. And a crossroads where American filmmakers, a Japanese graphic designer, a great Russian esthete and an Italian theatrist met among countless visits and presences. We all remember “our happy years” as the best. Amalgamation of sensations and memories that memory blurs in our favor.

Those times do not pass. We know that it has not only depended on the interior of the beautiful enclosure. The ISA, which has become the University of the Arts, has managed to survive and adapt. It has not stopped serving. Everything has changed, but there are essences that should never be lost. Freedom in teaching, practice with a strong theoretical component and theoretical specialties linked to praxis are a “secret” source of knowledge success.

Forty-five years are few in the life of a university. However, the ISA has made a name for itself despite shortcomings, difficulties and contradictions of all kinds. Because, on them, as I once wrote, “a space has been carved” where we do not dedicate ourselves to plowing in the sea. It would be impossible to tell the history of contemporary Cuban art without what was sown by these “few” courses, those happy years of each one, our times at ISA.

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