Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cuba detains Tania Bruguera with Havana Biennial in full swing. How will the art world react?

Cuba detains Tania Bruguera with Havana Biennial in full swing. How will
the art world react?
Carolina A. Miranda

Performance artist Tania Bruguera was detained and released by
authorities in Cuba on Sunday — as the 12th Havana Biennial opened its
doors to the world. She is seen here reading a text by Hannah Arendt as
part of a performance over the weekend. (Pablo León de la Barra /

A Cuban dissident artist detained as the 12 Havana Biennial parties on
'Don't do anything. This is nonviolent.' Cuban performance artist Tania
Bruguera on her recent detention
Watch video of the moment Tania Bruguera is detained in Cuba
The latest edition of the Havana Biennial kicked off Friday, but the
Cuban artist everyone is talking about does not have a piece in the show.

Tania Bruguera was once again detained by the authorities on Sunday
afternoon after staging a performance at her Havana home, in which she
and others read passages from Hannah Arendt's "The Origins of
Totalitarianism." A video by the civil rights group Patriotic Union of
Cuba, embedded in this post, records the moment in which state security
agents approach her on the street.

Bruguera was released that same afternoon. But the detention comes at an
uncomfortable moment for the Cuban government — just as the art world
has descended on the 12th Havana Biennial, an event that has drawn a
jet-setting group of international curators, artists and collectors to
the Cuban capital for exhibitions, parties and private studio tours.

All of it raises questions about Bruguera's continuing legal limbo. The
artist is a Cuban national, but as an internationally recognized artist,
she spends much of her time teaching and staging her work abroad. She
returned to Cuba in December and was first detained just before New
Year's Eve for attempting to stage a performance about freedom of
expression in Havana's iconic Revolution Square.

The Cuban government hasn't formally filed any charges against her, but
Bruguera had her passport confiscated, and it has yet to be returned.
For the time being, she is unable to leave Cuba.

Within the art world, there had been some online talk of a boycott in
advance of the biennial — but that effort didn't garner much steam. For
the most part, the exhibition has proceeded as planned.

But artist Paul Ramirez Jonas says it's not too late for the curators
and artists who are in Havana to do something. In a Facebook status
update he called on the international art community members present in
Cuba to take action: "If you are in Havana please don't act like it is
business as usual — because it isn't. Ask every government official,
curator, and (why not) the artists, as well, about Tania."

"Many of us who chose not to participate in the Biennial or related
shows have done what we could from the outside," he adds. "If you are in
Cuba now is your chance to do something."

Tania Bruguera on her art, her detentions and what happens next
Bruguera couldn't be reached for comment. But in a taped interview with
the a reporter from the Cuban news website Martí shortly after she was
released, she sounds firm in her mission to make art that touches a
nerve — whether it's in Cuba or anywhere else.

"When they were going to take me, I turned around to everyone who was
there and said, 'Don't shout,'" she says. "Nothing. Don't do anything.
This is nonviolent."

Find me on Twitter @cmonstah.

Source: Cuba detains Tania Bruguera with Havana Biennial in full swing.
How will the art world react? - LA Times -

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