Power, Taboo and The Artist

with Vera List Center and NCAC (National Coalition Against Censorship)
September 2010

From: “Tania Bruguera on Taboos,” ‘Tania Bruguera on the Effects of Censorship,’ ‘Public Funding for Art,’ and ‘Tania Bruguera on Alternative Institutions and Public Funding.’ 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Decency Clause. September 2010.

Tania Bruguera made these comments for a special internet video project organized by the National Coalition Against Censorship and theVera List Center for Art and Politicsat the New School on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Decency Clause.


1. What are or should be the taboos honored by cultural institutions?

2. Why should public funds be spent to support artwork that might offend some segment(s) of the general public?

3. In the U.S., as well as in a number of other countries, it seems that (self)censorship is often exerted in the name of “concern for the community.” Is that the case in your experience?

4. What alternative institutional models are emerging in your country in the face of restrictive conditions attached to public funding?

“Taboos are elements handled through the lens of power”

“In my experience as an artist, I was subject to a lot of censorship”

“It should be the role of the institution, not to censor the artist, but to understand if there’s a gap between the work and the public, what to do with this gap”

“There’s a big difference between how public funds are used in my country and other countries”