Events > Publication Launch

01 Jun. 2006

Publication launch for Tania Bruguera's Vigilantes: The Dream of Reason

Tania Bruguera
FADO Performance Art Centre

Art Metropole and FADO Performance Art Centre are pleased to present the publication launch of a new work by Tania Bruguera, Vigilantes: The Dream of Reason.

Vigilantes: The Dream of Reason is a small book reminiscent of a group of plane tickets in a travel folder that documents a series of liminal performances dealing with the relationship between ethics and desire. Produced in conjunction with the Time Zone residency curated by Tagny Duff, with internationally acclaimed Cuban artists Glenda León and Tania Bruguera.

During the residency, Bruguera will commute weekly between Chicago and Canada (first to Montreal and then to Toronto), using these trips as an opportunity to perform for the unsuspecting audience of her fellow travelers.

Bruguera describes Vigilantes: The Dream of Reason as “…a series of performances dealing with the relationship between ethics and desire; with the tension that can be found in a state of emotional vigilia, which is the state between being awake and asleep. Each piece will have several layers of appreciation, either from the position of the audience or of their level of boldness. These will be pieces that talk about the false strength and the hidden fragility.”

Tania Bruguera (born 1968 in Havana, Cuba) is a Cuban installation and performance artist. Bruguera studied at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana and then earned an M.F.A. in performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Bruguera lives and works between Chicago and Havana. She is the founder and director of Arte de Conducta (behavior art), the first performance studies program in Latin America, which is hosted by Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana.

From 2003-2010, she was an Assistant Professor at the Department of Visual Arts of The University of Chicago, United States and is an invited professor at the University IUAV in Venice, Italy.

Bruguera’s work pivots around issues of power and control, and several of her works interrogate and re-present evens in Cuban history.

Her 1998 work The Burden of Guilt (El peso de la culpa) was the artist’s take on a story that indigenous people in Cuba vowed to eat dirt and nothing else rather than be the captives of the Spanish conquistadors. Bruguera interpreted their act of eating dirt as “a weapon of resistance.” In her performance, Bruguera stood, naked, with a lamb carcass hanging from her neck, creating both a physical and symbolic burden. For 45 minutes, she consumed soil mixed with water and salt representing tears. As Edward Rubin described it, “The harrowing piece was first performed in Havana, where the audience was duly reminded that freedom, liberty and self-determination are not abstract ideals, but achievements that deeply inscribe their meaning on our physical being.”

A March 2009 performance by Tania Bruguera, at an arts centre in Havana, has been involved in controversy. During the performance Bruguera put up a microphone and told people in attendance they could say whatever they wanted for one minute. Various of the attendees use the opportunity to ask for “freedom” and “democracy”. One of these was the awarded blogger Yoani Sánchez. The Cuban government denounced this in a statement saying that it considered “this to be an anti-cultural event of shameful opportunism that offends Cuban artists and foreigners who came to offer their work and solidarity.”

In 2011, Bruguera began working on Immigrant Movement International, a multi-part artwork expected to continue through 2015. Bruguera began in 2011 by spending a year living in a small apartment in Corona, Queens, with five illegal immigrants and their children. She was interested in experiencing some of the problems illegal immigrants encountered trying to survive on low pay and without health insurance. The project, funded by the Queens Museum of Art and a nonprofit arts group called Creative Time, also involved opening a storefront in New York where Bruguera wanted to hold arts workshops for immigrants, but found that most of the people who came to the store were interested in learning English or needed help finding employment or legal aid. As part of the work, Bruguera has launched an Immigrant Respect Awareness Campaign and launched an international day of actions on 18 December 2011 (which the UN has designated International Migrants Day), in which other artists will also make work about immigration. In 2012, she presented Surplus Value, a participatory work as part of the larger project of Immigrant Movement International. In order to enter Surplus Value, museum visitors waited in a long line, and some were randomly allowed to enter, while others were submitted to lie detector tests asking about their travel history. The exhibition space contained four reproductions of signs from Nazi labor camps.

She has been recently developing The Museum of Arte Útil in collaboration with Queens Museum of Art in New York and the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (NL) that will be presented in December 2013. Arte Útil in Spanish roughly translates as useful art, but also suggests art as a device or tool. Arte Útil imagines, creates and implements socially beneficial outcomes.

Bruguera has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including Documenta 11 (2002), the Bienal Iberoamericana in Lima, Peru (2002), the Istanbul Biennial (2003), the Shanghai Biennale (2004), and the Gwangju Biennale in Gwangju, Korea (2008). Her work is also in the permanent collections of many institutions around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art and Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana.

FADO Performance Inc. (Performance Art Centre) is a non-profit artist-run centre for performance art based in Toronto, Canada.

FADO was established in 1993 to provide a stable, ongoing, supportive forum for creating and presenting performance art. Currently, we are the only artist-run centre in English Canada devoted specifically to this form. We recognize that performance art as a practice has multiple histories and encompasses various regional, cultural, political and aesthetic differences. FADO defines performance in relation to the root elements of the medium — time, space, the performer’s body and the relationship between performer and audience. We are most interested in works that are innovative in their use of one or more of these elements, including those that are multi-disciplinary. We focus on artists who have chosen performance art as a primary medium to create and communicate provocative new images and new perspectives.

We showcase the work of Canadian and international performance artists, presenting high-quality events featuring artists at all stages of their careers from varied backgrounds within carefully considered curatorial contexts. We further general knowledge and critical perspectives toward performance art by creating opportunities for local artists and audiences to view works by artists from other regions and countries. We also sponsor residencies, workshops, artist talks, symposia, publications, exchanges or other projects that enhance understanding, encourage dialogue, provide new skills and experience, and expand performance opportunities for Canadian performance artists. We offer audiences new approaches to observing and participating in performance art events, often animating and contextualizing events through publications, talks etc. We have also prioritized developing relationships with other venues, organizations and communities.

Our projects are often national or international in scope. We are interested in networking, information sharing, and helping to develop a strong national network of performance art presenters.

FADO does not operate a presentation venue because this would limit the kinds of projects it could produce. Presentation space is secured on a project-by-project basis, depending on the needs of the individual project.