New York, N.Y. – In late July, Cuban-born, internationally acclaimed artist Tania Bruguera became the inaugural artist-in-residence at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) in New York.
Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl shared Bruguera’s excitement. “I have been inspired by Tania Bruguera’s vision for art as something that can propose real, tangible solutions for the people involved since I met her 15 years ago,” Finkelpearl said in a statement. “I am enormously excited to support her work that uses art to forge a new model for enhancing our public services through creative practice.”
For the next year, she will work with MOIA to connect the IDNYC program with communities of undocumented residents who are often suspicious of government agencies.
In the residency, Bruguera will employ her practice of arte útil (“useful art”) and work with Immigrant Movement International, a community space she initiated in Queens in 2011. Focused in immigrant-rich neighborhoods, the resulting art projects will aim to encourage undocumented residents to make use of the IDNYC program and to raise awareness around issues facing their communities.
“This project provides a unique opportunity to enhance the notion of art as a useful tool to materialize a vision of a more inclusive society,” said Bruguera. “I’m excited to explore new ways of collaborating with New York’s immigrant communities to make a real impact on the lives of city residents.” Bruguera spoke about working with communities in a short video.
Bruguera was prevented from staging a public performance, Tatlin’s Whisper #6, in Cuba in December 2014. Cuban authorities took her passport, and it was not returned until July 10. In May, during the Bienal de la Habana, Bruguera and volunteers held a live reading of Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism in her home. She will not leave Cuba until it is guaranteed that she can return.
MoMA has recently acquired Bruguera’s performance and video installation Untitled (Havana, 2000).