Nelson Herrera Ysla
May 1996

From: Herrera Ysla, Nelson. “S/T,” Lágrimas de Tránsito, Ed. Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam, Havana, Cuba, July 1996, p. 2 – 3.


by Nelson Herrera Ysla

Strictly speaking, Tania Bruguera does not make works of art.

She sends spectators into their own selves. Once she considered exhausted several of the proposals on which she had embarked years earlier, she steers all artistic “contemplation” into self-reflection by using artistic “facts” as instruments,.

The artist considers that fictional discourse of art works had been superseded and she now resorts to the spiritual foundations of human condition with the use of atmospheres built with sensitivity, intelligence and some objects. Although this is a different discursive operation and, somehow, a different fiction, she does not want to once more manipulate traditional visualization and references consecrated by history. She makes use of creative processes touching the most sensitive cords of human beings without the well-known mediations of “symbols and signs”, “metaphors” or, more contemporarily, “quotes” or “intertexts” following the usual style in updated circles.

Tania is visceral. Here and now.

After various initiation periods in which she built her own artistic fiction and brought a new conceptual project to Cuban art in the early ‘90s, she now feels the need of saying things, her things, directly to the senses, emotions and feelings of others.

When graduating from the Higher Art Institute in Havana in 1992, she took an active part in workshops on textile art, photography, cinema and theory with the purpose of arming herself with a solid gear based on diverse techniques that did not tie her to one single expression or craft.

She has exhibited undeniably inventive performances in Europe, the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. All this before she was 28 years of age.

Her complex view of art gathered in such a short life span allows her now to close one cycle and start a new one.

For her, art is not an object. It does not translate into explainable forms and materials for bargain critics and historiography to explain. There is nothing specific “to see”, “to touch” with the well-informed eye.

Rather, in her present offerings there is something to feel. Intangibility? Immateriality? Both or none perhaps. What is true is that Tania suggests a path for the self-construction of aesthetic pleasure without the need of an object created for that purpose and this path sets her far from the mainstream and from the very margins it gives rise to. An artist – unclassifiable in the Cuba of the ‘90s – who does not take part in the critical-reflective comment of reality or the rereading of History of Art recent graduates are so fond of.

As the palm in Nicolas Guillen’s backyard, Tania “was born by herself” and goes by herself after what makes her feel a creative woman moving among limit situations of social participation and individual actions, avoiding the seductive influx of the art market in these times of crisis.

She is not interested, for the moment, in the idea of perdurability or everlastingness in art, but rather in something similar to extensions of her own life and of her ideas on life in general.

There is sacrifice, devotion and constant displacement from one area of knowledge and spirit to another.