Tania Bruguera. Untitled (Havana, 2000). 2000
TANIA BRUGUERA: Hi. I'm Tania Bruguera. You're about to experience my piece Untitled (Havana, 2000).
The first time we did this piece in Cuba, people had no idea what they were going to experience. I don't want to give you all the details about the piece because I want you to experience it first.
Part of the experience is giving yourself time, giving yourself the opportunity to explore in solitude But, also understanding that the time you are in the piece equals the commitment you have with the situation you have been invited to.
Being in line is a very important part of the piece. Because we Cubans have been doing lines for everything, for hours, for so long, for so many years of the revolution.
The piece was done in the year 2000, which is a very significant year for several reasons. One of them was a change between administration of the United States and a lot of people in the arts came, as we call it, as an “American invasion” in the arts to the Havana Biennial.
That was something that influenced the piece because for the first time in my career, actually, I was not only doing work for the Cubans, but for the people who come to see the Cubans. And I think that helped shape the piece because I had to introduce the, let's say the outsider--in this case, American--view of what happened in my country. It is intended to walk you through the experience of being Cuban at that specific moment in time.
What came first in this project was the site and that also helped define and shape the work, The Havana Biennial used one Spaniard fortress that was formerly a prison for prisoners of conscience. And that was an element that I wanted to incorporate in the piece, this idea of what happened with people who think differently. I'm inviting you, 18 years later, to experience the piece. Unfortunately, it's still under the same political conditions.
You're about to enter a piece that is meant to be encountered in silence. And this silence is a reference to the silence of the Cuban people under the regime of Fidel Castro. So in this silence is also a demonstration on how alone you can be when you cannot talk, how isolated and how you become the only point of reference when you are not able to express what you think.
I hope that when you enter the piece you will start putting together all the information that comes through all your senses, from what you feel in the floor, to what you smell, to what you hear, to what you cannot see. There are things that you are experiencing and what you learn with your body, you don't forget. It’s almost like a process of learning about a country, about the people of the country, through all your feeling, all your senses.
NARRATOR: After you've been through the exhibition you'll want to hear Tania Bruguera describe what you've just experienced. Enter 291 on MoMA audio. Or mo dot ma backslash 291 on your phone.