From: Bruguera, Tania “Trust Workshop – Opening Reception Russia 2007,” Printed Project, no. 7, March 2007, Ed. Kim Levin, Dublin, Ireland, 2007, (illust.) pp. 27 – 38.
by Tania Bruguera
Rather than create objects or events, I’ve chosen as an artist to embark on a series of works where I create temporal institutions that embed the contradictions they are dealing with as their symbolic dimension/capital. How to present this project to the art world poses an ethical question. Accord- ingly, the only appropriate audience for such a work is the group of Russians for whom the work was created. I solved the problem of exhibition by a formal announcement of this project’s title, Opening Reception, at its commencement during the second Moscow Biennial. Display in this case means, not a public showing nor access, but an announcement of the project’s existence. The existence then lies in either the imagination and speculation of the audience, or a real event conducted in the same discrete way in which the secret police works. The art world then serves as an advertisement space for the project with no concrete physical evidence.
For years, I have worked with the concept of fear as a powerful manipulative tool. In this piece, the initial fear was transformed into a comfort zone that slowly dissolved into a deeper and more permanent horror, being manipulated with our permission. Going into a room where you are entertained and where you can fantasize on your “family picture” being taken by nice and very energetic young people providing domesticated animals dressed as babies, covers the very fact of the act and the picture of Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, the creator of the Bolshevik secret police, the “Cheka”; later the Committee for State Security or KGB. From almost 76 people taken pictures during the 2 hours opening reception, only one person declined their participation after seeing the portrait in the wall, it was a middle age Russian.
The relationship between reality and art is one that has been explored endlessly; but oftentimes the art produced under such parameters only relays its existence in a representative manner recognized solely in the art world. Such projects evade their responsibility as an active part of the reality that they are meant to address, and as a result what should be strategy exists only as a tactic. The works I create inhabit the parallel worlds of art and the reality of the addressed issue, encouraging audiences on either side to cross over and gain a deeper knowledge of the issue at hand.