Women Discourses: A Reflection within Cuban Visual Arts

Lázara Castellanos

From: Castellanos, Lázara. “Discurso de mujeres: una reflexión dentro de las artes visuales cubanas,” Arte Cubano, no. 2/1998, La Habana, Cuba, 1998. (illust.) pp. 18 – 25.

Women Discourses: A Reflection within Cuban Visual Arts

by Lazara Castellanos

In her installation Lo que me corresponde (What Belongs to Me), Tania Bruguera (Havana, 1968) devotes important space to stress her sexuality as an art projection. Sponsored by the Ludwig Foundation in Cuba, she produced this interesting installation in the house she lives in and faced the challenge of turning an architectonic space into a metaphor of her own body. In this way, she created a new relationship of knowledge with the spectators-decoders and disclosed intellectual, sensorial and dramatic aspects of her personality. Thus, the installation showed what is public, what people daily see, in the living room of her house turned into a gallery for the works of art of her friends, and what is intimate, since behind the door opening to the inner rooms claustrophobia, for example, found expression in a room that was closed and padded, badly lighted and full of eyes. Then other secrets came to light: mysticism, in a room given an atmosphere with flowers, incense and music and suggestive allusions to contradictory religious universes uncomfortably overlapping: Christianity, beliefs of African ascent and a remnant evaded from Zen Buddhism. There also was a space for solitude: in her studio, behind a piece of glass, the artist moved affecting ignorance of the spectators who, as she had asked, paraded one by one. In the most private space in every house, the bathroom, a model took pleasure in her entirely nude body. The room was closed, the lights were on, and through a whole made precisely to assault intimacy, spectators turned into “voyeurs.” In this provocative installation, Tania Bruguera offered living pieces of her existence in an action that brought up her will to run risks.

Marguerite Duras (Saigon, 1914 – Paris, 1996) once said: “I am in contact with myself in a freedom that concurs with me.” And she went on: “When I write, I am the same madness I am in life. I join the masses of stone when I write. The stones of the dam.” This is how, today, the outer world acts on works made by women, concurring with themselves, defining the meaning of freedom.