Tania Bruguera: Untitled (Havana, 2000)
Artist and activist Tania Bruguera (Cuban, born 1968) investigates the impact of state power in her installation Untitled (Havana, 2000). Initially conceived for the 7th Havana Biennial in 2000, the work was first presented in the Cabaña Fortress, a military bunker used as a jail for prisoners of conscience during the Cuban Revolution. From colonial times through the early years of the Revolution, the counterrevolutionary opposition was tortured and executed by firing squad at the Fortress. Combining milled sugarcane, video footage of Fidel Castro, and live performance presented in near-total darkness, Untitled (Havana, 2000) evokes the contradictions of life in the wake of the Cuban Revolution. The work, which was on view for mere hours in Havana before being shut down by the Cuban government, embodies Bruguera’s complex relationship to authority.
This exhibition of Untitled (Havana, 2000) marks the first time this powerful piece has been presented since its recent acquisition by MoMA, and looks back to a pivotal point in Bruguera's career, as she moved from working primarily with her own body to working with the collective social body. Bruguera refers to her work from this period as Arte de Conducta, or “behavior art”—a practice aimed at “not representing the political but provoking the political.” Through constructed situations, she explores the formation of collective memory and the way that the political is registered within the body itself.