The Ends of Exile: Towards a Coming Universality?

T.J. Demos

From: Demos, T.J. “The Ends of Exile: Towards a Coming Universality?,” Ultramodern: Tate Triennial, Ed. Bourriaud, Nicolas, Tate Publishing London, 2009 (illust.) p. 81.

ISBN 978-1-85737-817-0

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The Ends of Exile: Towards a Coming Universality?

by T.J. Demos

TANIA BRUGUERAis a Cuban artist who divides her time between Havana and Chicago. Her interdisciplinary work focuses on the relationship between art, politics and life. Since 2002 she has been working on a series of projects in which she appropriates structures of power, creating political situations rather than just representing them. Here, BRUGUERA instructed the curators to ‘fly post’ the Tate Britain galleries with pages from the directive on the return policy for illegal immigrants (P6_TA_PROV(2008)0293 – the title of the intervention), approved by the European parliament just a few days before the Prologue. In the manner of a protest, the pages covered the rooms and obscured interpretation panels. The intervention was  ‘activated by’ a gallery attendant, employed by Bruguera, who read out loud passages from the directive whenever visitors asked questions, whether relevant to the intervention or not. By obstructing the usual appearance and function of  the gallery and humorously blurring intended participation with the confusion of those taken by surprise, the artist encouraged the audience to engage with issues of migration and exile. Bruguera was invited to participate in Exiles but was unable to obtain a visa to enter the UK. Her absence, though unfortunate, resonated with the themes of the day.

Translated for the website by Ernesto Alvarez Valdivia