Tania Bruguera – Tate Modern

She’s been called the most dangerous woman in Cuba, recently declared that she intends to run for president, and now she's taken over Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. City Countdown reports on the rise of Tania Bruguera.

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Tate Modern on the banks of the Thames

Tate Modern on the banks of the Thames

Tate Modern recently announced that the Cuban artist Tania Bruguera had won the commission to present a work in the galleries massive Turbine Hall.

No information about the new project has been revealed however Bruguera is renowned for her provocative and politically charged art.

Burden of Guilt, one of the artist’s earliest works, is a good example. Inspired by the tragic tales of indigenous Cubans who killed themselves to avoid capture by the Spanish, Bruguera shed her clothes, hung a headless carcass around her neck, and ate dirt. The work was intended to focus attention on the continuing plight of Cuba’s indigenous population.

Bruguera would pull a similar stunt in Belgium. Again naked and wearing a carcass, the artist took to the streets, herding a flock of sheep past shocked locals in the centre of Ghent.

The Cuban artist should be well know to visitors to the Tate. Bruguera has had several of her works displayed at the gallery and in 2008 another of her works, Tatlin’s Whisper #5, was added to the galleries permanent collection.
In this piece, which seeks to explore the audience’s relationship with authority, two mounted police officers roam the gallery herding shocked visitors from one exhibit to another.

The works power comes from its clever rewriting of the social etiquette of authority with the use of mounted police officers being a more famaliar site in the predominantly working class world of football than in the elevated world of the arts.

Then, in 2012 the Tate presented Bruguera’s Immigrant Movement International. The controversial work required visitors to the gallery to take a UK immigration test while wired up to a lie detector. Those who were successful were then allowed access to the gallery’s Tanks space.
The artist’s work has not always been well received in certain sections of Cuba however with Bruguera often critical of the government.
However in 2016 Bruguera went one step further when she announced that she was planning to run for president herself. The announcement was intended to highlight the fact that the country does not allow democratic elections.
The director of Tate Modern, Frances Morris said that she was delighted that Bruguera had been chosen to undertake the commission and she highlighted “the highly original and compelling way” in which the artist addressed the political concerns of our age.

Since the opening of Tate Modern in 2000 the galleries cavernous Turbine Hall has played host to an impressive array of artists including Ai Weiwei, who famously filled the space with ceramic seeds; Olafur Eliasson who installed an artwork related to the weather; and Doris Salcedo, who created a massive fissure in the hall’s floor.

In conjunction with Hyundai, the gallery has offered an annual commission which has allowed one artist per year the opportunity to create a new work for the vast venue.

Tania Bruguera’s Hyundai commission at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall will run until 24 February 2019.

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