Tania Bruguera was born in 1968 in Havana, Cuba. Bruguera, a politically motivated performance artist, explores the relationship between art, activism, and social change in works that examine the social effects of political and economic power. By creating proposals and aesthetic models for others to use and adapt, she defines herself as an initiator rather than an author, and often collaborates with multiple institutions as well as many individuals so that the full realization of her artwork occurs when others adopt and perpetuate it. She expands the definition and range of performance art, sometimes performing solo but more often staging participatory events and interactions that build on her own observations, experiences, and interpretations of the politics of repression and control. Bruguera has explored both the promise and failings of the Cuban Revolution in performances that provoke viewers to consider the political realities masked by government propaganda and mass-media interpretation. Advancing the concept of arte útil (literally, useful art; art as a benefit and a tool), she proposes solutions to sociopolitical problems through the implementation of art, and has developed long-term projects that include a community center and a political party for immigrants, and a school for behavior art.
In this preview from the Legacy episode of ART21 Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 7, Bruguera introduces the origins of her long-term project Immigrant Movement International, headquartered in Corona, Queens, New York. Described as an “artist-initiated sociopolitical movement,” the five-year project is intended to “rethink the political representation of immigrants.” “I needed to do an immigrant movement in the United States,” says the artist, “because when you say, ‘Where do you want to live?’ to anybody in the world, they say, ‘United States.'”
Season 7 of Art in the Twenty-First Century premieres Friday, October 24, 2014 at 10:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings or contact your local PBS station), beginning with the Investigation episode. The Legacy episode airs Friday, November 7, 2014.
Nicole J. Caruth was managing editor of the ART21 Magazine from 2013-2015, and has been a regular contributor to this site since 2008. Her writing has appeared in a range of publications, including ARTnews, C Magazine, Gastronomica, Public Art Review, and the Phaidon Press books Vitamin Green and Vitamin D2.