Biography

An independent curator and art writer, Octavio Zaya is Executive Director of the Cuban Art Foundation.

Zaya has curated more than 40 exhibitions internationally, including a number of significant group and biennial-form exhibitions. Recent projects include Ríos intermitentes [Intermittent rivers], a large exhibition project by Maria-Magdalena Campos-Pons in Matanzas, Cuba, for the 13th Havana Biennial (2019), and the retrospective Luis Camnitzer: Hospicio de utopías fallidas [Hospice of failed utopias], Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2018–2019). Among his other notable exhibitions are Lara Almarcegui, Spanish Pavilion for the 55th Venice Biennale (2013); Shirin Neshat: Written on the body, Fundación Telefónica, Madrid (2013); Georges Adéagbo: The Mission and the Missionaries, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (MUSAC), León, Spain (2012); and Yinka Shonibare: El futuro del pasado [The future of the past], Alcalá 31, Madrid (2011). He also conceived and curated Versiones del Sur: Cinco propuestas en torno al arte en América. Más allá del documento, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2000). He was co-curator of documenta 11, Kassel (1998–2002), with the late Okwui Enwezor, who was artistic director; co-curator of the main exhibition of the Second Johannesburg Biennial, also with Enwezor (1997); and a member of the curatorial team for Enwezor’s landmark show In/Site: African Photographers, 1940 to the Present, Guggenheim Museum, New York (1997). He was also a curator for the first Johannesburg Biennial (1995).

Zaya has served as the Director of Atlántica Journal (2000–2018); Curator-at-Large and Advisor at MUSAC, León, Spain (2005–2012); and Co-director at Centro Huarte, Spain (2007–2009). He is a member of the advisory board at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA) and Performa, New York. He sits on the Editorial Board of Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art.

Born in 1954 in the Canary Islands, Spain, Zaya lives and works in Boston, US.

SAF participation:
Sharjah Biennial 15 (Working Group)

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