Anish Kapoor, Jeremy Deller, Simon Starling, and Others Condemn Tania Bruguera’s Detention

The artist Tania BrugueraPhoto: Tom Martin via Wales News Service
The artist Tania Bruguera
Photo: Tom Martin via Wales News Service

A group of 14 artists has written an open letter to the Guardiancondemning Cuban artist Tania Bruguera’s continued detention in her home country. The esteemed group of signatories includes four Turner Prize winners—Simon Starling, Mark Leckey, Jeremy Deller and Elizabeth Price—as well as YBA Anish Kapoor and Howard Hodgkin.

Bruguera was arrested and had her passport confiscated following her plans to stage a performance critical of the Cuban government’s free speech record, in December 2014 (see Tania Bruguera’s Arrest Slows the US–Cuba Thaw). Seizing upon thawing diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, #YoTambienExijo would have involved Cubans taking to Havana’s Revolution Square to speak openly about their feelings about the country and vision for its future. Earlier this month it was confirmed that the artist, who lives between Cuba and New York, would have to spend at least two more months in the country (see Tania Bruguera Has to Stay in Cuba for Another 60 Days).

Speaking to the Guardian, Tate curator Catherine Wood said of Bruguera, “She is not an artist who shies away from complication or controversy. I am worried about her because she really puts herself on the line in her work.” (See How Tania Bruguera’s Whisper Became the Performance Heard Round the World and Tania Bruguera Returns Award to Cuban Government.)

Wood explains that the Cuban authorities’ constant surveillance of the artist’s communications has been isolating for her and that actions such as those of the 14 signatories on Monday can certainly help.

“One of the main anxieties she has is that the authorities are trying to claim she’s not an artist, they are accusing her of being a spy and saying she has other motivations that are not creative,” said Wood. “So for her, the support of other artists who can speak out freely is really significant for her and for her case.”


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