Cuban artist Tania Bruguera joins Theater, Dance & Media faculty

Tania Bruguera.

Photo by Claudio Fuentes

3 min read

Cuban artist Tania Bruguera will join Theater, Dance & Media (TDM) as a senior lecturer in media and performance. Her tenure begins August 1, and she will be on campus to teach this fall.

“Tania Bruguera is an artist whose work brilliantly engages the sociopolitical conditions of our time. We are thrilled to welcome her to TDM and look forward to having her catalytic presence at Harvard,” said Robin Kelsey, dean of Arts and Humanities for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

A performance and installation artist whose work lives in permanent collections in museums worldwide, Bruguera said she is “honored” to join such a dynamic faculty and their development of an innovative, collaborative environment in the department.

“I’m excited to arrive to a young department that is experimental and already thinking its next step,” she said. “One of the most exciting aspects about joining Harvard is to be together in a classroom with such brilliant students — people who will surely define the vision of the world in a few years.”

Bruguera, who choreographs political performances that examine institutionalized injustice,  has been outspoken about the Cuban government and its oppressive policies. She received her BFA from Escuela de Arte San Alejandro in Havana, and MFAs in painting and in performance from Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana and School of the Art Institute of Chicago, respectively.

Among her most powerful works that have received international acclaim: “The Burden of Guilt” (“El Peso de la Culpa,” 1997–99), a performance informed by the tale of mass suicide of indigenous Cubans in resisting the Spanish, and “Department of Behavior Art” (“Cátedra Arte de Conducta,” 2002–09), an alternative art school she created for artists and students to explore the making of arte útil (useful art). In “Tatlin’s Whisper #5” (2008), visitors to the Tate Modern were confronted by police officer performers responding to an imagined riot. In “Tatlin’s Whisper #6 in Havana” (2009), Bruguera created a temporary space for the kind of free speech normally denied in Cuba.

“I hope to be useful when I’m at Harvard to continue to bring attention to my fellow Cubans who are going through government hardship in their efforts to try to build up a democratic Cuba,” she said.

Bruguera has won fellowships and awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Radcliffe Institute. She said she equally looks forward to introducing art to undergrads who may not be future artists.

“But the sensibility they will develop at TDM will be part of their life. They will put creativity into everything else they do, that will always stay with them,” she said.