Blurring the Lines Between Art and Activism

October 15, 2020

A conversation with Tania Bruguera co-hosted by the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and The James Gallery/The Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY

Date and Time:
Thursday, October 15, 2020
7:30 PM EDT

Online Event

Join us for an online panel discussion in celebration of the release of the book Tania Bruguera in conversation with / en conversación con Claire Bishop, featuring Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, Claire Bishop (Ph.D., Professor, Graduate Center, City University of New York), and moderated by Irene Small (Ph.D., Associate Professor, Princeton University).

A controversial figure working in installation and performance, Cuban artist Tania Bruguera (born 1968) has consistently blurred the lines between art and activism. Defining herself as an initiator rather than an author, she often invites spectator participation and works in a collaborative mode, working with various organizations, institutions and individuals to challenge political and economic power structures and the control they hold over society.

This panel discussion will look at different aspects of Bruguera’s career including her exploration of the ways in which art can be applied to everyday life, and how its effects can translate into political action. Panelists will explore topics covered in this eleventh title in the Fundación Cisneros' Conversaciones/Conversations series, which delves into terms Bruguera has developed and or adapted over the last decade to “illuminate” her work–Arte de Conducta [Behaviour Art], Political Timing Specific Art, Arte Útil [Useful Art], Est -Ética [Aest-ethics] and Artivism. Bruguera’s story, as discussed with Bishop over many years, runs from the development of her early work in 1980s Cuba, motivated by her political activism, and her shift from intimate performances to the orchestration of the large-scale interactive situations and events that characterize her work today. The panel will also delve into Bruguera’s current work as she has said that this publication is closing a chapter in her life. “I sometimes feel I am carrying those works that belong to the past around too much. From now on, those that want to know about them, will have to read the book […] I am at that point in time where I want to look to the future.”

Registration for this event is required. Access to the event's livestream will be provided upon registration. This panel discussion is free and open to the public and will be livestreamed on Thursday, October 15th, at 7:30 PM (EDT). This online conversation will be in English with live captioning. Simultaneous Spanish interpretation will be provided by Colectivo Babilla. Video documentation will be made available on the CUNY and CPPC websites at a later date.

Tania Bruguera is a Cuban installation and performance artist and activist. She lives and works between New York and Havana, has participated in numerous international exhibitions and her work is in the permanent collections of many institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana. As a result of her art actions and activism, Bruguera has been arrested and jailed several times, including this year for speaking out against police brutality in Cuba.

Claire Bishop is a critic and professor in the PhD Program in Art History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her books include Installation Art: A Critical History (2005) and Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (2012), for which she won the 2013 Frank Jewett Mather award, and Radical Museology, or, What’s Contemporary in Museums of Contemporary Art? (2013). She is a contributing editor to Artforum, and her essays and books have been translated into eighteen languages. She met Tania Bruguera for the first time in 2007, when she went to Havana to teach at Cátedra de Arte de Conducta.

Irene V. Small is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art & Criticism in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University. She is also an associated faculty member of the Programs in Media & Modernity and Latin American Studies, and is currently a Behrman Fellow at The Humanities Council at Princeton. She is the author of Hélio Oiticica: Folding the Frame (University of Chicago Press, 2016), and is currently at work on a new book that takes as its point of departure Lygia Clark’s notion of “the organic line.”

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