As an artist I have being researching ways in which Art can be applied to the everyday political life, not only as its dispositive for self-reflection but as a way to generate and install models for social interactions that could provide new ways to engage with utopia. The concept of the ephemeral is one that presents itself in the form of the political and its effectiveness. The political is elaborated in my work at specific locations, behaviors and negotiation processes all with a consciousness of its temporality and range of actions. I consider my work to be contextual art, one that subordinates any pre-conceived notion of aesthetic or artistic strategies to the needs of the “here and now,” of the currency, weight and impact of the events in relationship with specific moments of history and audiences. The ephemeral is also located in the problematic of authorship, which tends to be distributed and disseminated among the participant-performers in my work.
In my work I present various modalities of delegation of authorship. Not only the responsibility of the work is negotiated with the audience in terms of its documentation or its completion, but where the audience is at times requested to create the work itself. My intervention at the X Havana Biennale, exemplifies the ways in which the audience takes control: A stage, a podium, live microphones, two persons dressed in military uniforms, a white dove and the possibility to access the podium to have one minute without censorship, transformed itself into a viral space for freedom of speech. What is delegated is the privilege acquired by the artist, the privilege an artist is awarded by society and by the history of the role of art and artists, which is one of more easily negotiated and expected freedom and tolerance.
The goal of the work is not only to provoke ways of thinking, to spark reflection or to create a public forum to debate ideas that have been shown in their state of contradictions but to realize the possibility of working with arte útil (useful art). Art is mostly accepted in its contemplative function; even when the work itself is presented in an “active” way, what is demanded at the end from the audience is mostly an activation of the mind. What is pursued with useful art is not restricted to events where the resulting reaction from the encounter with the work generates action from the part of the audience. It is rather to create an application for the double condition of the metaphor – literally, a “change of name,” or a reframing of a situation, whether it is in an art museum or the street or an educational institution. This is a strategy that works both in its practical implementation and in the symbolic realm. For example, my creation of a long-term project in the form of a school for political art (“Cátedra Arte de Conducta”) dealt with the implications of the distribution of knowledge, simultaneously, as a concrete way to access reality and in its symbolic dimension. While recent traditions of artistic interventions in everyday practical life tend to strip them of their functionality (whether social or mechanical) so they can be re-located in the affect and the aesthetic perception, there are other older models (closer to my interest) where the reason for the creation of art has more immediately practical implementations.
The relationship between ethics and desire presents itself in the work as a crossroad for these matters. While I believe in art as one of the possible ways by which to put in motion a social engine, I strongly advocate for its self-sabotage. When I say self-sabotage it is not merely to refer to the creation of a paradox, which is a process that is always assumed in artwork, but as a process of self-delimitation of the “aura” of the project and the artist.
I work with Arte de Conducta (behavior or conduct art). I do not work creating iconic revelations of the body but on socially engaged constructions of the collective. The use of Arte de Conducta assumes the location of the artistic in the social behavior as an artistic language and in its capability as generator of meanings. I’m interested in creating an environment that allows transforming “the audience” into “a citizen.” In the work, “Tatlin’s Whisper #5,” the audience is forced to recede to a political imaginary created by the media, one with which they have an anesthetized relationship. The images, not previously linked with a personal experience, are staged in order to transfer what was solely the knowledge of another political time and place into a personal memory. In this case, two mounted police entered the museum with the instruction to use their training on crowd control with the show’s audience.
Another aspect in my research is the presentation of models of negotiation for the visibility of the work as Art. I’m interested to explore the ways in which things become artistic, in what makes a moment art. I privilege the moment of doubt about the condition of the artistic by delaying its moment of awareness as such from the audience. The denominative function (naming something as “art”) is transfigured into a participative one (finding oneself inside a work of art). My work is therefore divided between long and short-term projects, ranging from a single day to several years. What determines the duration is the practical use of time to accomplish a specific goal, and the time lag between the presence of the work as an event and its delimitation or recognition as an artwork, its visibility as such, its potential to generate controlled meaning. The works are not always immediately revealed negotiations between the real and the represented but precisely the staging of such tension. These decisions are taken in relationship with the way in which the work embarks upon the social realm and its expectations with the state of the political.
My work deals with the concept of political representation and its relationship with direct access to established structures of power. I’m interested in appropriating the resources of power to create power, to create through art political situations.
Tania Bruguera have being researching ways in which Art can be applied to the everyday political life, not only as its dispositive for self-reflection but as a way to generate and install models for social interactions that could provide new ways to engage with utopia. The concept of the ephemeral is one that presents itself in the form of the political and its effectiveness. The political is elaborated in Bruguera’s work at specific locations, behaviors and negotiation processes all with a consciousness of its temporality and range of actions. Bruguera’s work is contextual, behavior and useful art, is one that subordinates any pre-conceived notion of aesthetic or artistic strategies to the needs of the political. The ephemeral is located in the problematic of authorship, which tends to be distributed, disseminated and delegated among the participants in her work, transforming audience into citizen. The relationship between ethics and desire presents itself as a crossroad for these matters. Bruguera is interested in ways in which things become artistic and the negotiation of its visibility as such.
“I wanted to put art again at the service of the mind.”
Art is for me “the space and form” through which I think. Each of my artistic conclusions is the consequence of existential positions, while art in turn models new attitudes in my own life. What I am showing today is an answer to the question of functionality in art, which is not “putting it up or down” for its consumption, but rather turning into a means of reflection and meaning.
Exhibiting Ana’s work, valid and important enough for art in Cuba, is giving it the place it deserves among us. Ana also looks at herself in life through her art; her actual legacy is ephemeral since it becomes part of nature. I share with her the idea of giving the creative process the same significance of the finished work, in an attitude towards it that is very close to devotion, responsibility, symbolical action, going beyond the object and seeing art as research and as “the form in which I reestablish the links uniting me with the universe.”
Juan Fco. Elso is for me the paradigm of this view, since “the work” for him was a much larger, intense and complex process than the final product that could be exhibited. With “This Work Does Not Exist” – based on a fragment of his piece “The Night, the Day” – I suggest a visual archeology beyond the presented object. Reflecting on the meaning of this work offers the key to what I suggest: that exhibition as a “work” and “idea” transcend its mere existence as a museological, historical or documentary sample to become the expression of a point of view.