SNF Nostos


Art & Exhibitions

Tania Bruguera (b. 1968, Cuba)

Tatlin’s Whisper # 6 (Version for Greece), 2017

Sunday June 25, 19:00, Agora

Tania Bruguera (b. 1968, Cuba)

An “activation” of the performance Tatlin’s Whisper #6 (Havana Version), 2009.
Medium: Decontextualization of an action, Behavior Art.
Materials: Stage, Podium, Microphones, 1 Loudspeaker inside and one outside of the building, 2 persons in military outfits, White dove, 1 minute free of censorship per speaker, 200 disposable cameras with flash. Dimensions: Variable.

Tatlin’s Whisper #6 (Version for Greece) will enact one of the artist’s most important and controversial participatory performances: Tatlin’s Whisper #6 (Havana Version), first presented at the Wifredo Lam Center during the 2009 Havana Biennial. The audience was handed two hundred disposable cameras with flash to document the performance and told that they could freely speak on a topic of their choice for a minute through the microphone in the podium. There was a long silence. Eventually 39 people took the podium expressing various thoughts, including their support or critique of Fidel Castro’s regime. A woman and a man in military uniforms guarded the speakers. They put a white dove on their shoulder alluding to the emblematic image of Castro’s first speech in Havana after the triumph of the Revolution in 1959—an image that ratified his absolute leadership in a generalized consensus that worked for those who saw in this image either a guarantee of civic peace or a Messiah or an aesthetic emblem of the future to be built. Obviously, the same elements re-presented in a different time and place will elicit different responses insofar as those elements constitute vessels for hope and fear. How they are experienced in the present Greek context will thus serve as a kind of semiotic polling of the body politic during a period of sustained crisis.

Tatlin’s Whisper #6 belongs to a series of political performative works—what the artist calls “Behavior Art” decontextualizing an action—that seek to de-anaesthetize media images and transform the art audience into active citizens. The series is named after the Russian Constructivist artist Vladimir Tatlin, who designed an heroic but never realized Monument to the Third International in 1920, in evocation of the failure of revolutionary socialist utopias, as well as the hope for social transformation that Bruguera’s work seek to activate. A reenactment of Tatlin’s Whisper #6 at the Revolution Plaza, Havana was planned two weeks after the announcement of the reestablishment of the relations between Cuba and the US on December 30 2014. It was never allowed by the government, leading to arrests and the artist’s detention that amplified the international impact of the work’s defense of freedom of speech.

For over 25 years Tania Bruguera has created socially-engaged performances and installations that examine the nature of political power structures and their effect on the lives of society's most vulnerable individuals and groups. Her research focuses on ways in which art can be applied to the everyday political life; on the transformation of social affect into political effectiveness. Her long-term projects are intensive interventions on the institutional structure of collective memory, education and politics. Her works often expose the social effects of political forces and present global issues of power, migration, censorship and repression through participatory works that turn “viewers” into “citizens.”
By creating proposals and aesthetic models for others to use and adapt, she defines herself as an initiator rather than an author, and often collaborates with multiple institutions as well as many individuals so that the full realization of her artwork occurs when others adopt and perpetuate it.

Awarded an Honoris Causa by The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, selected one of the 100 Leading Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine, shortlisted for the #Index100 Freedom of Expression Award, a Herb Alpert Award winner, a Radcliffe and Yale World Fellow, and the first artist-in-residence in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
She participated in the Documenta 11 exhibition and also established the Arte de Conducta (Behavior Art) program at Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana. Her work has been shown in the 2015 Venice Biennale, at Tate Modern, London, Guggenheim and MoMA, New York, among others. Bruguera has recently opened the Hannah Arendt International Institute for Artivism, in Havana - a school, exhibition space and think tank for activist artists and Cubans.
Born 1968 in Havana, Cuba. She lives and works in Havana, New York and Cambridge.