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In mid-February 2023, our artist residency in Havana welcomed German artists Felix Leon Westner and Sarah Lehnerer who spent a month living and working in the Cuban capital.

The residency is situated in a restored villa in the bohemian neighbourhood of Vedado and offers its visitors a calm refuge from which to explore the often hectic city, and Felix and Sarah, along with their daughter Mathilda, took full advantage of this, finding new inspiration for two-dimensional works, texts, video art and performances in both Havana and with the Habaneros, visiting a wide array of important local museums, galleries and institutions, including the National Museum of Fine Arts, the University of the Arts (ISA), Servando Art Gallery, Arte Continua, Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC) and the National Theatre of Cuba.

Their interactions with the Cuban culture and landscapes resulted in the well-received ‘open studio’ exhibition and performance ‘It’s OK, it’s not OK’, hosted in the residency, and attended by notable local directors, curators, critics and artists, including Wilfredo Benitez, executive director of the Fundación Ludwig de Cuba, Annesusanne Fackler, representative of the Goethe Institute in Cuba and Yamilys Brito, director of the Taller de la Gráfica.

It’s OK, it’s not OK’ included examples of Westner’s text-based works on aluminium plates, expressing concerns and observations inspired by his time on the island as well as one of his trademark performances mixing music, beatbox, lights and the application of texts on objects such as an umbrella and plastic bags, involving the audience to make them reflect on both text and context. Lehnerer’s works, employing elements of the poetic and textual, experimented and narrated on the questioning of the female figure, its role and representation in both the private and collective spheres. Whilst in Havana, Sarah developed works marked by a sensitive approach, exploring Cuban counterpoints to European references, imaginaries traversed in turn by marketing and the idea of utopia.

Thank you to both Sarah and Felix for being part of our residency programme.

Felix Leon Westner’s (b. 1983, Germany) core practice consists of sound performance, drawing, and installation. Westner employs elements from electronic music and rave, such as live-generated loop tracks of his voice and vivid lights, which he combines with spoken word, poetry, and drawing in his performance work.

Sarah Lehnerer (b. 1987, Germany), is an artist and researcher. She works with methods of diarism, intertextuality, polyphony and collaboration in the media of drawing, print and film- and text based autofiction. The auto- (self) does not signify a purely personal or individual element in this approach: Searching for that which is structurally general and collective in the personal and intimate is not just a matter of attitude but marks the crucial fulcrum of her artistic practice.

Felix Leon Westner ’since 3 days’ bitumen-marker and graphite on aluminium, 105 x 148 mm, 2023

Felix Leon Westner ‚another lobster‘, bitumen-marker on plastic-bag, 45 x 30 cm, 2023

Felix Leon Westner‚it’s ok - it’s not ok‘, bitumen-marker on aluminium, 105 x 148 mm, 2023

Felix Leon Westner‚in a small window of opportunity‘, bitumen-marker on aluminium, 105 x 148 mm, 2023

Felix Leon Westner ‚a portal to positive stress‘, bitumen-marker and lacquer on Aluminium, 105 x 148 mm, 2023

Sarah Lehnerer o.T. (self), Ink on Tissue Paper, Frottage, 270 x 230 cm

Sarah LehnererPower, Down, b/w print on Paper, 29 x 21 cm

Sarah Lehnerer o.T. (through the looking glas), Ink on Tissue Paper, Frottage, 100 x 100 cm& Power, Down, b/w print on Paper, 29 x 21 cm

Video Sarah Lehnerer Agua de Cuba, Full HD video, 13:34 min

Video - Agua de Cuba 2023

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