Cuban Performance Artist Tania Bruguera Speaks Out About Her Recent Detention


The artist.


Over at the Los Angeles Times, Carolina A. Miranda (who has been a contributor to ARTnews) has an interview with artist Tania Bruguera, who was recently detained by state security authorities following her attempt to stage Tatlin’s Whisper #6 in Havana.

The piece consists of a podium and microphone, which audience members are invited to use for one minute each. It was staged as part of the 2009 Havana Biennial without incident but Bruguera was detained the day it was supposed to take place, Dec. 30.

In the interview the U.S.– and Europe–based Bruguera says she had not originally planned to stage the piece when planning her trip to the country, and was merely home to visit with family, but after the announcement of the resumption of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, decided to stage the piece in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolucion.

That’s when it all went wrong. Here’s a sample from the piece.

The day before, somebody told me, “Don’t sleep in your house.” But I wasn’t doing anything wrong. And I don’t want to gett other people in trouble. On that day [Dec. 30], at 5 in the morning, they cut all the phones. And there were almost 20 people between the door of the house and around the building and downstairs. They started knocking on the door, and I told my mother, “If they have an arrest warrant, then we open the door.” They didn’t say they were police. They just said, “Tania! Tania!”

By about 12 p.m., I realized that they were not leaving. I needed to tell everyone the event was suspended. But I have no phone. Finally, I open the door. They told me we were just going to have a conversation for an hour, an hour and a half. They wouldn’t tell my mother where we were going, which I think was not fair. They didn’t tell me they were taking me to prison or that I was detained. And when I get [to the prison], they put me in a prisoner outfit. They recorded everything, taking videos of everything: me going down the stairs and me entering the police station. I asked for a lawyer and they said no. I asked to call my mother, they said no.

They also took my passport. They took the computers and everything from the house. It was funny, because I had taken a white T-shirt and wrote “#YoTambienExijo” [her hashtag for the re-staging, “I Also Demand”] on it. They took that and the pen I used to write it.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times.

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