"I still think the social function of art is that kind of negative aesthetic. Otherwise there’s no social function for it."
Tania Bruguera was born in 1968 in Havana, Cuba. Bruguera, a politically motivated performance artist, explores the relationship between art, activism, and social change in works that examine the social effects of political and economic power. By creating proposals and aesthetic models for others to use and adapt, she defines herself as an initiator rather than an author, and often collaborates with multiple institutions as well as many individuals so that the full realization of her artwork occurs when others adopt and perpetuate it. She expands the definition and range of performance art, sometimes performing solo but more often staging participatory events and interactions that build on her own observations, experiences, and interpretations of the politics of repression and control. Bruguera has explored both the promise and failings of the Cuban Revolution in performances that provoke viewers to consider the political realities masked by government propaganda and mass-media interpretation. Advancing the concept of arte útil (literally, useful art; art as a benefit and a tool), she proposes solutions to sociopolitical problems through the implementation of art, and has developed long-term projects that include a community center and a political party for immigrants, and a school for behavior art.
Tania Bruguera attended art schools in Havana, including the Instituto Superior de Arte (1987-92), and received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2001). She received a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship (1998), and has been awarded residencies at Skowhegan (2002); Headlands Centers for the Arts (1998); Fundación Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Maracay (1998); Art in General (1997); and ART/OMI (1995). Major exhibitions of her work have appeared at the Van Abbemuseum (2014); Queens Museum (2013); National Museum Wales (2012); Havana Biennial (2010, 2003, 2000); Neuberger Museum of Art (2010); Venice Biennale (2009, 2001); Tate Modern (2008); Moscow Biennial (2007); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2006); Shanghai Biennial (2004); Istanbul Biennial (2003); Documenta (2002); San Francisco Art Institute (2002); SITE Santa Fe Biennial (1999) and the São Paulo Bienal (1996). Tania Bruguera lives and works in Queens, New York.