Tania Bruguera Returns Award to Cuban Government

The Cuban artist Tania Bruguera has announced that she is returning the Distinción por la Cultura Nacional award (distinction for national culture), which the Cuban government granted her after her participation in Documenta 11 in 2002, 14 y medio reports. Bruguera has also announced that she is quitting the Unión Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (Cuban union of writers and artists).

In a letter handed yesterday to Cuba’s Ministry of Culture Bruguera writes: “I can’t accept an honor nor be part of an institution which claims to speak for all, but where only the Presidency of the Organization is allowed to sign. They are cultural institutions that criminalize, judge, and reduce responses to an artwork to the creation of fear, instead of opening up a dialogue and a space for aesthetic analysis.”

The announcement follows Bruguera’s three successive arrests last week, after attempting to restage the performance Tatlin’s Whisper #6 (2009) in Havana’s Revolution Square (see “Tania Bruguera’s Arrest Slows the US–Cuba Thaw”). Around 50 people were arrested in conjunction with Bruguera, who had her passport, computer, and mobile phone confiscated.

Bruguera had wanted to “generate a space of reflection” in the wake of the announcement of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US.

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