1968 (age 51–52)
|Alma mater||Instituto Superior de Arte,|
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
|Known for||Performance art, installation, and video|
|Awards||Guggenheim Fellowship (1998), Prince Claus Prize (2000)|
Tania Bruguera (born 1968) is a Cuban installation and performance artist. She lives and works between New York and Havana, and has participated in numerous international exhibitions. Her work is also in the permanent collections of many institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art and Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana.
Bruguera's work pivots around issues of power and control, and several of her works interrogate and re-present events in Cuban history. As a result of her art actions and activism, Bruguera has been arrested and jailed several times.
With her father being a diplomat and minister in the Fidel Castro government, Tania moved three times throughout her childhood. Her father's career took the family to Paris (1973–1974), Lebanon (1974–1977), and Panama (1977–1979). In 1979, two years after her third move, Bruguera decided to return to Cuba.
Bruguera studied at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana and then earned an M.F.A. in performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the founder and director of Catédra Arte de Conducta (behavior art school), the first performance studies program in Latin America, which is hosted by Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana. From 2003 through 2010, she was an assistant professor at the Department of Visual Arts of the University of Chicago, United States and is an invited professor at the Università Iuav di Venezia in Venice, Italy.
Tania Bruguera's 1997 work The Burden of Guilt (El peso de la culpa) was the artist's take on a story that indigenous people in Cuba vowed to eat dirt and nothing else rather than be the captives of the Spanish conquistadors. Bruguera interpreted their act of eating dirt as "a weapon of resistance." In her performance, Bruguera stood, naked, with a lamb carcass hanging from her neck, creating both a physical and symbolic burden. For 45 minutes, she consumed soil mixed with water and salt, representing tears. As Edward Rubin described it, "the harrowing piece was first performed in Havana, where the audience was duly reminded that freedom, liberty, and self-determination are not abstract ideals, but achievements that deeply inscribe their meaning on our physical being."
In 1998–9 Tania created a behavior art piece titled "Desierro," which translates into ‘displacement’ in English. This piece of work resembles the power figure ‘Nikis Nkonde’ and is supposed to draw attention to the empty promises the Cuban government made to its people during the revolution. With this piece of art Tania calls upon the Cuban people to take an active stance and demands from the Cuban government to finally fulfill their promises.
In 2002 Tania Bruguera founded the Cátedra Arte de Conducta (Behavior Art School) in Havana to provide a space for the training of alternative art studies in contemporary Cuban society. The focus of the Cátedra was to educate Cubans on diverse styles of art, and to show how art could be used as a tool for the transformation of ideology.
A March 2009 performance by Tania Bruguera at an arts centre in Havana has been involved in controversy. During the performance Bruguera put up a microphone and told people in attendance they could say whatever they wanted for one minute. Various of the attendees use the opportunity to ask for “freedom” and “democracy”. One of these was the awarded blogger Yoani Sánchez. The Cuban government denounced this in a statement saying that it considered “this to be an anti-cultural event of shameful opportunism that offends Cuban artists and foreigners who came to offer their work and solidarity."
In 2011, Bruguera began working on Immigrant Movement International, a multi-part artwork expected to continue through 2015. Bruguera began in 2011 by spending a year living in a small apartment in Corona, Queens, with five immigrants and their children. She was interested in experiencing some problems immigrants without residency papers encountered trying to survive on low pay and without health insurance. The project, funded by the Queens Museum of Art and a nonprofit arts group called Creative Time, also involved opening a storefront in New York where Bruguera wanted to hold arts workshops for immigrants, but found that most of the people who came to the store were interested in learning English or help finding employment or legal aid.
In 2012, she presented Surplus Value, a participatory work as part of the larger project of Immigrant Movement International. In order to enter Surplus Value, museum visitors waited in a long line, and some were randomly allowed to enter, while others were submitted to lie detector tests asking about their travel history. The exhibition space contained four reproductions of signs from Nazi labor camps.
In 2013, she initiated the project The Museum of Arte Útil in collaboration with Queens Museum of Art in New York and the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (NL). Arte Útil in Spanish roughly translates as useful art, but also suggests art as a device or tool. Arte Útil imagines, creates and implements socially beneficial outcomes. The Museum of Arte Útil evolved in the Asociación de Arte Útil, a new, international membership organisation that seeks to promote and implement Arte Útil. Alistair Hudson, director of the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) is co-director with Bruguera of the Asociación.
In 2017, Bruguera proposed herself as a candidate in the 2018 Cuban Presidential Election in a video called #YoMePropongo en Cuba. In this project, she challenges the audience to imagine what they would do to create a better future Cuba, if they were elected president. To date, Bruguera has received 70 video responses from everyday Cubans expressing their desires to reform the corrupt government, include affordable housing, and improve their weak economy.
In 2018, she was the recipient of a commission for the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall. For the installation, Bruguera covered part of the floor with heat-sensitive black paint; when visitors sat or lay upon it, part of a vast portrait of a Syrian refugee beneath was revealed. Curator Catherine Wood explained, "It is a call to action, because there's no way that you can see this picture unless you join together with many, many other people."
Bruguera has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including Documenta 11 (2002), the Bienal Iberoamericana in Lima, Peru (2002), the Istanbul Biennial (2003), the Shanghai Biennale (2004), and the Gwangju Biennale in Gwangju, Korea (2008). Her work is also in the permanent collections of many institutions around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art and Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana.
Bruguera was arrested and released three times in the time frame of December 2014 through January 2015 for having organized a public performance in La Havana's Plaza de la Revolución. She was detained with several other Cuban artists, activists, bloggers and journalists who participated in the 'Yo Tambien Exijo' campaign. The campaign arose after Raúl Castro and Barack Obama’s declarations on December 17th, 2014 about the restoration of diplomatic ties, potentially bringing an end to five decades of hostility. The first arrests were made on Tuesday, December 30th, after Bruguera announced a public performance with the intention of leaving an open microphone available to Cubans to allow them to freely express their thoughts. The performance, titled Tatlin’s wisper #6 – Havana Version, was already staged in 2009 during the 10th Havana Biennial.
The event has attracted widespread media coverage both in favor and against her action and a public letter in support of Tania addressed to Raúl Castro was written and signed by over a thousand people across the globe. The letter stated: ‘We firmly believe her detention, and the withdrawal of her Cuban passport, are inappropriate responses to a work of art that simply sought to open space for public discussion.’ Eventually she was released and the Cuban government returned Tania Bruguera's passport on 10 July 2015, six months after confiscating it.
In December 2015, Bruguera announced that she may still return to Cuba. She said that during the time of her detention she only agreed to leave under two conditions: that dissidents who were arrested after attending her aborted performance in Revolution Square be released; and that the Cuban government give her a signed and stamped letter guaranteeing that she could return to Cuba.
On March 3, 2016 she launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for INSTAR (Institute of Artivism Hannah Arendt). The Institute focuses on creating bridges of trust, peaceful and considered responses in times of hardship, and to create a place where people with different political views can come together to build a better country.
In October 2017, Tania Bruguera announced that she would be running for "President of Cuba", when the current President Raul Castro (brother of Fidel Castro) steps down. Bruguera has stated that the satirical performance is an act to expose the fact of Cuba being a one party state that is not elected by the people. She is hoping to enact change with bringing to light this reality, removing the culture of fear.
Bruguera was arrested in December 2018 in advance of a planned protest against a Cuban law (Decree 349) that would require artists to apply for government licenses. On 6 December 2018, Bruguera was released from jail after three days along with a dozen other artists and activists for organizing sit-in protests against Decree 349.  Bruguera filed a lawsuit against the Cuban government for defamation after the publication of information that sought to "damag[e] [the artist] and [her] family, psychologically, socially, and professionally,” was published in state-run media publications Gramma newspaper, Razones de Cuba, and La Jiribilla.
|2018||Untitled (Havana 2000)||The Museum of Modern Art, New York, United States||Solo|
|2004||Dated Flesh||Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, United States||Solo|
|2004||Art Projects||Art Basel, Miami, United States||Group|
|2004||Shangai Bienale||Shangai, China||Group|
|2004||Island Nations||Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Rhode Island, United States||Group|
|2003||Esercizio di resistenza||Franco Soffiantino Gallery, Turin, Italy||Solo|
|2003||Autobiografia||Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba||Solo|
|2003||The Royal, royal trip||PS1, New York, New York||Group|
|2003||Untitled||Palacio del Patio Herreriano, Valladollid, Spain||Group|
|2003||Poetic Justice||8th Istanbul Bienale, Istanbul, Turkey||Group|
|2003||The living museum||Museum fur Modern Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany||Group|
|2002||Ingeniero de almas||Palacio de Abrantes, Salamanca, Spain||Solo|
|2002||Tania Bruguera – Ghada Amer||San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, California, United States||Solo|
|2002||Fusion Cuisine||Deste Foundation, Athens, Greece||Group|
|2002||Extreme Existence||Pratt Institute. New York||Group|
|2002||Documenta 11||Kassel, Germany||Group|
|2002||The Stone and water||Helsinki Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland||Group|
|2002||No place||IFA Gallery, Bonn, Germany||Group|
|2002||III Bienal de Lima||Lima, Peru||Group|
|2002||Untitled||F.A.I.R The Royal College, London||Group|
|2001||La isla en peso||Casa de las Américas, Havana||Solo|
|2001||Tania Bruguera||LiebmanMagnan Gallery, New York||Solo|
|2001||A little bit of history repeated||Kunst Werte, Berlin, Germany||Group|
|2001||Mercancias||Espacio C, Cantabria, Spain||Group|
|2001||Span||International Performance Arts Residency Project, London, United Kingdom||Group|
|2001||The Plateau of Humankind||49th Venice Bienal, Venice, Italy||Group|
|2001||Do you have time?||LiebmanMagnan Gallery, New York||Group|
|2000||Uno mas cerca del otro, VII Bienal de la Habana||Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña, Galería de Contraminas de San Ambrosio, La Habana||Group|
|2000||Arte all Arte, 5th edition||Fortezza di Poggio Imperiale, Arte Continua, Poggibonsi, Tuscany, Italy||Group|
|2000||Exotica Incognita||3rd. Kwangju Bienale, Kwangju||Group|
|2000||Cutting Edge||ARCO: Feria de Arte Contemporáneo, Recinto Ferial Juan Carlos I Madrid, Spain||Group|
|1999||Recent work||Vera van Laer Gallery, Antwerp, Belgium||Solo|
|1999||Videodrome||The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York||Group|
|1999||Utopia-Distopia||8va. Muestra Internacional de Performance, Mexico City, Mexico||Group|
|1999||Looking for a Place, III International Biennial||SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States||Group|
|1999||Happening||Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Gent, Belgium||Group|
|1999||Cuba – Maps of desire||Kunsthalle Wien, Austria||Group|
|1998||Art in Freedom||Boymans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands||Group|
|1998||The Garden of Forking Paths||Helsinki City Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland||Group|
|1998||II Salón de Arte Contemporáneo||Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam, La Habana||Group|
|1998||Obsesiones||Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam, Havana||Group|
|1998||De discretas autorías. Cuba y Venezuela: Nuevas poéticas||Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Mario Abreu, Maracay, Venezuela||Group|
|1998||Fragmentos a su imán||Galería Latinoamericana, Casa de las Américas, Havana||Group|
|1998||III Bienal Barro de América||Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela||Group|
|1998||Desde el cuerpo: Alegorías de lo femenino||Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas||Group|
|1997||El peso de la culpa||Tejadillo 214, Havana||Solo|
|1997||Anima||The School of the Art Institute of Chicago,Illinois, U.S||Solo|
|1997||Trade routes, 2nd Johannesburg Biennale||The Electric Workshop, Johannesburg, South Africa||Group|
|1997||1990's Art from Cuba, a national residency and exhibition program Betty Rymer Gallery||The School of the Art Institute, Chicago||Group|
|1997||Trabajo por cuenta propia||acultad de Artes y Letras, University of Havana, Havana||Group|
|1997||New Art from Cuba: Utopic Territories||Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada||Group|
|1997||Las mieles del silencio||Galería Latinoamericana, Casa de las Américas, Havana||Group|
|1997||El ocultamiento de las almas||Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales, Havana||Group|
|1996||Cabeza abajo||Espacio Aglutinador, Havana||Solo|
|1996||Lágrimas de tránsito||Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam, Havana||Solo|
|1996||23rd São Paulo International Biennial||Parque do Ibirapuera, São Paulo, Brazil||Group|
|1996||La carne||Espacio Aglutinador, Havana||Group|
|1996||I Salón Internacional de Estandartes||Centro Cultural Tijuana, Tijuana, México||Group|
|1996||Otras Escri(p)turas||Centro Provincial de Artes Plásticas y Diseño, Havana||Group|
|1996||Un giro de tuerca||Galería Taller de Serigrafía René Portocarrero, Havana||Group|
|1996||Mujeres por mujeres||Galería Imago, Gran Teatro de la Habana, Havana||Group|
|1995||Lo que me corresponde||Artist's home, Havana||Solo|
|1995||Soñando, with Fernando Rodriguez||Gasworks Studios Gallery, London, England||Solo|
|1995||1st Contemporary Art Competition||Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana||Group|
|1995||II Bienal del Barro||Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Lía Bermudez, Maracaibo, Venezuela||Group|
|1995||La Isla Possible||Centro di Cultura Contemporania, Barcelona, Spain||Group|
|1995||New Art from Cuba||Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, England||Group|
|1995||Las formas de la tierra||Galería Buades, Madrid||Group|
|1994||La otra orilla, V Havana Biennial||Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, Centro Wifredo Lam, Havana||Group|
|1994||Una brecha entre el cielo y la tierra||Centro Provincial de Artes Plásticas y Diseño, Havana||Group|
|1994||Utopía||Galería Espada, Casa del Joven Creador, Havana||Group|
|1994||Catálogo||Galería Catálogo, Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, Havana||Group|
|1994||Salón de la Ciudad '94||Centro Provincial de Artes Plásticas y Diseño, Havana||Group|
|1993||Memoria de la postguerra||Galería Plaza Vieja, Havana||Solo|
|1993||XI International Drawing Biennial||Middlesbrough Fine Arts Museum, Cleveland, England||Group|
|1993||La nube en pantalones||Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana||Group|
|1993||Dibujo no te olvido||Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales, Havana||Group|
|1992||Ana Mendieta. Sala Polivalente||Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales, Havana||Solo|
|1992||2nd International Poster Biennial||Museo José Luis Cuevas. Mexico City||Group|
|1989||II Festival de la Creación y la investigación||Instituto Superior de Arte, Havana||Group|
|1989||Fotografía manipulada, workshop's exhibition||Fototeca de Cuba, Havana||Group|
|1988||No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano||Fototeca de Cuba, Havana||Group|
|1987||I Festival de la Creación y la investigación||Instituto Superior de Arte, Havana||Group|
|1986||Marilyn is alive||Galeria Leopoldo Romañach. Academia de San Alejandro, Havana||Solo|
|1986||Proteo,Galería Leopoldo Romañach||Academia de Artes Plásticas San Alejandro, Havana||Group|
- 2018: Inga Maren Otto Fellowship. The Watermill Center. Long Island, New York, United States.
- 2013: Meadows Prize. Meadows School of Art and The Meadows Foundation. Texas, United States.
- 2012: Honorary Committee. 40 Years of Latino Arts & Culture. El Museo del Barrio. New York, United States.
- 2012: Derek Williams Trust Purchase Award. Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales, Contemporary Art Collection. Wales, United Kingdom.
- 2012: Artes Mundi Finalist. National Museum of Art. Wales, United Kingdom.
- 2011: Mid-Career Artist CIFO Grant. Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation. Florida, United States.
- 2011: Best Show in a University Gallery in 2010: “Tania Bruguera: On the Political Imaginary.” AICA Awards. New York, United States.
- 2011: The Bronx Museum of the Art's recognition. The Bronx Museum of the Arts. New York, United States.
- 2010: Biennial Competition Award. The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation. New York, United States.
- 2009: Ordway Prize Finalist. Creative Link for the Arts / The New Museum. New York, United States. 1st Neuberger Prize. Neuberger Museum. New York, United States.
- 2008: Prince Claus Award. Prince Claus Fund. Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
- 2007: European Commission for Descentralized Cooperation. European Union.
- 2005: Fundación Amistad Travel Grant Support. Fundación Amistad. New York, United States.
- 2002–2004: Cuban Arts Fund Grant. Cuban Arts Fund. New York, United States.
- 2001: MFA Graduate Fellowship, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Illinois, United States.
- 2001: Odyssey Travel Grant. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago. Illinois, Chicago.
- 2000: Prince Claus Grant. Prince Claus Fund. Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
- 1999: Merit Scholarship. The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Illinois, United States.
- 1998: Fellowship. The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. New York, United States.
- Phaidon Editors (2019). Great women artists. Phaidon Press. p. 79. ISBN 0714878774.
- Reilly and Nochlin, Eds (2007). Global Feminisms: New Directions in Contemporary Art. London and New York: Merrell. p. 270.
- IUAV, Faculty of Arts & Design
- Posner, Helaine; Mosquera, Gerardo; Lambert-Beatty, Carrie (2009). Tania Bruguera: On the political imaginary. New York, NY: Charta. ISBN 978-88-8158-764-3.
- Alvarez, Carlos Manuel. "Tania Bruguera: Cuban artist fights for free expression". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- Bass, Nicole. "Biography by Nicole Bass" (PDF). www.taniabruguera.com. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). taniabruguera.com. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- University of Chicago, Department of Visual Arts
- Dolnick, Sam (May 18, 2011). "An Artist's Performance: A Year as a Poor Immigrant". New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- Bruguera, Tania. "The Burden of Guilt". Tania Bruguera. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- Fusco, Coco (2000). Corpus Delecti: Performance Art of the Americas. London: Routledge. pp. 152–153. ISBN 0415194547.
- Rubin, Edward. "Art in America Featured Installation by Cuban Artist at Neuberger Museum". Artes Magazine. Archived from the original on August 15, 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- Tania, Bruguera. "Tania Bruguera | Displacement". www.taniabruguera.com. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
- "Catedra Arte de Conducta (Behavior Art School)". Tania Bruguera. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
- Reuters, Cuba accuses blogger of "provocation".
- The Miami Herald, Artist's work lets Cubans speak out in Havana for freedom
- La Repubblica, Cuba, blogger sul palco per un grido di libertà.
- La Jiribilla:, Declaración del Comité Organizador de la Décima Bienal de La Habana.
- "Tania Bruguera: Immigrant Movement International". Tate Modern. Retrieved May 17, 2013.
- "Museum of Arte Útil".
- "Asociación de Arte Útil".
- "YBCA: Talking to Power / Hablandole al Poder". YBCA. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
- Mark Brown Arts correspondent. "Tania Bruguera wins Tate Modern Turbine Hall commission | Art and design". The Guardian. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
- Mead, Rebecca (November 12, 2018). "Tania Bruguera's Empathy-Inducing Installation". The New Yorker.
- Archibold, Randal C. (2015-01-01). "Cuba Again Arrests Artist Seeking Dissidents' Release". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- "Artist Tania Bruguera Arrested Again in Havana, Injured by Police". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- "Tania Bruguera on her art, her detentions and what happens next". latimes.com. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- "Statement by the President on Cuba Policy Changes". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- York, Alan Yuhas in New. "Obama and Castro hail historic breakthrough for US-Cuba relations – as it happened". the Guardian. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- "Tatlin's Whisper #6 (Havana version)".
- "How Tania Bruguera's Free Speech Performance Was Mishandled, and Misreported, in Cuba". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- "On the detention of Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, by Coco Fusco | e-flux". www.e-flux.com. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- "Tania Bruguera's 2014 Whisper Performance – artnet News". artnet News. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- "Tania Bruguera's Tatlin's Whisper #6 and the Hannah Arendt International Institute for Artivism | Art Agenda". www.art-agenda.com. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- Hoby, Hermione (2015-10-13). "Tania Bruguera: the more the secret police torture me, the better my art gets". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- "Libertad a Tania Bruguera / Free Tania Bruguera". Google Docs. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- name, Site. "Cuban authorities return Tania Bruguera's passport but a further arrest and release ensues / Art Review". artreview.com. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
- "Cuban Artist Tania Bruguera Speaks the Truth". W Magazine. 2015-12-02. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
- "YBCA: Talking to Power/Hablandole al Poder". YBCA. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
- Jones, Jonathan (17 October 2016). "Why we should back Tania Bruguera's presidential bid for a free Cuba". the Guardian. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- Basciano, Oliver (December 6, 2018). "Cuban artists fear crackdown after Tania Bruguera arrest". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
- Pes, Javier (December 5, 2018). "Fears Grow for Tania Bruguera After Cuban Authorities Detain the Activist-Artist". Artnet News. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
- "Released From Jail, Artist Tania Bruguera Vows to Remain in Cuba to Continue Her Fight Against a New Censorship Law". artnet News. 2018-12-10. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
- "Tania Bruguera and fellow artists released from Cuban jail". theartnewspaper.com. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
- "Freshly Out of Jail, Artist Tania Bruguera Files a Defamation Lawsuit Against Cuba". artnet News. 2018-12-18. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
- "Tania Bruguera - The Watermill Center". www.watermillcenter.org. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- Art21 episode featuring Tania Bruguera https://art21.org/artist/tania-bruguera/
- Dignity Does Not Rest: An Interview with Tania Bruguera, MoMA Magazine
- Tania Bruguera, Untitled (Havana 2000) at The Museum of Modern Art
- Hear Bruguera speak about her work Untitled (Havana 2000)
- Official webpage of the artist
- Interview with Paul O'neil in Bomb Magazine
- Tania Bruguera: the more the secret police torture me, the better my art gets, The Guardian
- Tania Bruguera: Yale World Follows
- Tania Bruguera: Rebel with a Cause