Tania Bruguera (1968 - )


    Tania Bruguera studied at the Academy of San Alejandro and graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte in 1993, receiving the most advanced artistic training possible in revolutionary Cuba. During the 'special period' of 1989-1994 however Bruguera and other artists of her generation struggled to produce art while the Cuban people experienced extreme economic hardships. As a young artist Bruguera became aware of the death of Cuban-born artist Ana Mendieta, who had left Cuba at the age of thirteen in 1961. Bruguera mourned the artist's untimely death by re-creating many of her works in Cuba, as a means of preserving the artist's legacy on the island in the early 1990s, a time when contact with the Cuban exile community and the international art world was once again a distant hope.

    Bruguera's performance-based practice in the early 1990s dealt with the loneliness and isolation that residents of the island felt increasingly as more and more Cubans sought exile. In 1993 and 1994, Bruguera published two issues of an underground newspaper titled Memoria de la postguerra (Memory of the Postwar Era), a compilation of texts by Cuban artists, both those still in Cuba, and those who had sought exile. Bruguera's paper was significant to artists within and beyond the island who saw it, inspiring discourse and solidarity in a time in which little revolutionary optimism remained. During the mid-90s, Bruguera developed graphic, visceral performance pieces such as El peso de la culpa (The Weight of Guilt), which was first performed in her home during the 1997 Havana Biennial concurrently with a performance by Cuban-American artist Coco Fusco. In the same year, Bruguera was awarded a fellowship to study at the Art Institute of Chicago; and in 1998 received a Guggenheim Fellowship. At the Art Institute, she earned an MFA and came into contact with the other side of the Cuban exile community, which her work of the early 1990s had considered from afar. She has participated in numerous biennial exhibitions throughout the last decade, and has been the subject of multiple one-person exhibitions in Cuba and abroad. Bruguera's performance actions and multi-media works use the 'international' language of North American and European body art of the 1970s-?90s, while at the same time often referring specifically to a post-revolutionary Cuban context. More recently, with works such as Autobiografía (Autobiography), mounted at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana during the 2003 Havana Biennial, Bruguera has focused on installations that lead the viewer/participant to consider relationships between public and private space, thought and action.

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