press release

Bruguera, an interdisciplinary artist, working in Arte de Conducta (behavior art), performance, installation, video and drawing, lives and works in both Chicago and Havana. She earned her undergraduate degree at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana and her MFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

“Some of the most important exhibitions in recent years – for example the last two editions of Documenta or the Biennial in Istanbul…– have proposed in the main, art that confronts political and social issues, created from an artistic stance that can be called ethical. We can recognize this stance as one of the clearest constants throughout all Tania Bruguera’s work.” From Tania Bruguera, Esercizio di resistenza: by Roberto Pinto,Torino, Italy 27.11.2003 -24.01.2004.

One of the works in this exhibit is Poetic Justice, the recreation of her much acclaimed installation at the Istanbul Biennial in September 2003. While in residence in India, Bruguera chose to work with used tea bags as a metaphor for the co-opting and repackaging of cultural traditions and products. Teabags arranged in rows on canvas panels (over a thousand to a panel), create walls on each side of a walkway down which the viewer travels. Several small LCD screens about the same size as tea bags are hung on these panels each showing different historical documentary footage. The images are purposely out of context, their only common element being that there is a person in each performing an action on another person and thus in a position of power.

In the process of developing new work, Bruguera often creates outfits and drawings to try out materials. For this show she has produced Dated Flesh, 2003, in which she uses one of the main elements for a work that will be shown at the November 2004 Shanghai Biennial. It is an unusually elegant veil crafted from stones and cow guts which when worn obscures the wearer’s vision. Cow guts, while visceral, have historically been employed in furniture, dress parts, shoes and other aspects of everyday life.

Destierro (Displacement), is a sculptural outfit, mud-covered with protruding nails, used in performances to represent the figure of the African icon Nkisi Nkonde, that is also used in Cuba for spiritual practices. Promises are made to Nkisi Nkonde in exchange for it granting petitions. Each nail is evidence of such a commitment. The performer stands still for several hours, but later stirs and eventually goes out onto the streets looking for those supplicants who have broken their promises.

Bruguera has been invited to and participated in numerous international exhibitions and biennials, the list of which is below.

Since 1994, Bruguera has participated in Documenta 11 (Germany), and in several biennials including Venice (Italy), Johannesburg (South Africa), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Havana (Cuba), Site Santa Fe (United States) and most recently Istanbul (Turkey).

In 1998 she was selected as a Guggenheim fellow and in 2000 she received the Prince Claus Award.

She recently founded the Arte de Conducta department at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, the first performance and time-based university-level art studies program in Latin America.

Her work has been exhibited in several museums, including PS 1/MOMA (United States), The New Museum of Contemporary Art (United States); Boijmans van Beuningen Museum (The Netherlands); Helsinki Art Museum (Finland), The Whitechapel Art Gallery (England) and Centro de Arte Contemporaneo Wifredo Lam (Cuba).

She has performed in venues such as The Kunsthalle Wien (Austria); Stedjlick Museum von Actuele Kunst (Belgium); Museo X-Teresa Arte Actual (Mexico), Museo de Bellas Artes (Venezuela) and Institute of International Visual Art (England). She has lectured extensively internationally, including at The Royal College of Art in London, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Bruguera’s work is included in collections at MMK (Museum fur Modern Kunst), Frankfurt, Germany; Daros Foundation, Zurich, Switzerland; JP Morgan Chase Bank, New York; Museum of Modern Art (artist book collection), New York; Bronx Museum, New York; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba; Centro de Arte Contemporãneo Wifredo Lam, Havana; and The New Museum for Latin American Art, Essex, England.


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Tania Bruguera "Dated Flesh"