Since the late 1990’s Tania Bruguera’s artistic practice has often reflected back on the social, cultural and economic experience of being Cuban.
Through an interdisciplinary practice spanning installation, social intervention and most prominently performance, Bruguera explores the role art can play in daily political life, bringing light to the individual’s understanding of self as part of a collective historical and contemporary social memory. Bruguera’s actions encourage viewers to rethink and question notions of fear, vulnerability, empowerment, self-determination and freedom, as well as submission and obedience as social survival strategies.
At the core of Bruguera’s practice is a collaborative impulse that opens up the possibilities made available to her to be shared by others. In 2003 she founded the alternative art school Cátedra Arte de Conducta (Art of Behaviour) in Havana to channel technological and intellectual resources unavailable in Cuba to emerging Cuban artists. This has been crucial in the development of a generation of Cuban artists now starting to show internationally. From 2010-15 Bruguera is focusing on her long-term project Immigrant Movement International, based in Queens, NY, which seeks to redefine the immigrant as a global citizen and stimulate artists to create work that can be actively implemented into social, political, and scientific issues.
Artes Mundi 5 Exhibition
Tania Bruguera consciously rejects the use of the gallery space and uses a combination of installation, social intervention and most prominently performance to explore the role art can play in the politics of daily life. She has chosen to present her works outside the galleries in the public spaces of the museum and the city. For her, the encounter with the artwork is most powerful when it is dislocated from the conventions of the gallery and integrated into social reality. Reﬂecting back on the experience of being Cuban, Bruguera’s actions encourage viewers to rethink and question notions of fear, vulnerability, empowerment, self-determination and freedom, as well as submission and obedience as social survival strategies.
For Artes Mundi 5 Bruguera presented Immigrant Respect Campaign as part of her long-term art project, Immigrant Movement International 2010-2015. The work is an artist-initiated socio-political movement exploring what defines an ‘immigrant’. The campaign features the symbol of the Immigrant Respect ribbon and includes a temporary light monument to immigrants, a poster campaign throughout central Cardiff, alongside other unannounced actions. Visitors to the exhibition were also invited to sign a Moral Commitment Contract promoting immigrants’ rights.
Also see: TateShots: Tania Bruguera, interview, Tate Modern performance of Tatlin’s Whispers #5, 2008.