Grant Recipients Robert Rauschenberg Award Performance Art/Theater 2019

Tania Bruguera

Portrait of Tania Bruguera with midlength brown hair wearing a black long sleeve shirt.
Photo by Claudio Fuentes.
  • 2019 Robert Rauschenberg Award
  • Performance Art/Theater
  • Installation and Performance Artist, Archivist
  • Born 1968, Havana, Cuba
  • Lives in New York, NY
  • Additional Information

The $40,000 grant was instrumental in 2019 in covering administration expenses and unforeseen medical costs…I was able to begin organizing my thirty-year artistic archive with the help of an assistant… I was also able to take much-needed time off to work on a book…The funds from this grant allowed me to work diligently on projects that had been put aside in previous years. The organization of my archive has had a great impact on the preparations for my solo show. The finalization of the interviews with Claire Bishop for the unpaid book, and the subsequent editing process and confirmation of translation required a significant amount of time and work. This work would have been impossible without the Foundation’s generous grant.

- Tania Bruguera, January 27, 2020

Artist Statement

As an artist I have been researching ways in which Art can be applied to everyday political life, not only as its dispositive for self-reflection but as a way to generate and install models for social interactions that could provide new ways to engage with utopia. The concept of the ephemeral is one that presents itself in the form of the political and its effectiveness. The political is elaborated in my work at specific locations, behaviors, and negotiation processes all with a consciousness of its temporality and range of actions. I consider my work to be contextual art, one that subordinates any pre-conceived notion of aesthetic or artistic strategies to the needs of the here and now, of the currency, weight, and impact of the events in relationship with specific moments of history and audiences. The ephemeral is also located in the problem of authorship, which tends to be distributed and disseminated among the participant-performers in my work.

- December 2018


Tania Bruguera is a Cuban installation and performance artist whose practice pivots around issues of power and control. Often interrogating and re-presenting events in Cuban history, Bruguera's work investigates how art applies to everyday political life, focusing on the conversion of social affect into political effectiveness.

As the 2018 Tate Modern Hyundai Commissioned Artist, Bruguera fostered the creation of the Tate Neighbours. Comprised of people who live and work in the same London postcode as the Tate Modern, the Tate Neighbours seek to explore how the museum can learn and adapt to its local community. Bruguera's work can be found in the permanent collections of many institutions, including The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana, Havana, Cuba.

Bruguera initiated the formation of Immigrant Movement International (2010-15), a community agency that provided social services to immigrants and transnational residents. As part of Migrant People Party (2010-15), a "party of ideas" conceived as a new form of mass political organization, Bruguera launched an Immigrant Respect Awareness Campaign and established an international day of actions on December 18, 2011, which the United Nations has designated as International Migrants Day. Bruguera also founded The Arte de Conducta (Behavior Art) program at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba to study the relationship between performative arts and politics and their possible implementations in society.

Bruguera has been named a National Endowment for the Humanities/Hannah Arendt Center Distinguished Visiting Fellow (2017), a Yale World Fellow (2015), and is the recipient of a Meadows Prize (2013). She holds an M.F.A. in Performance from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as degrees from the Instituto Superior de Arte and the Escuela de Artes Plásticas San Alejandro in Havana, Cuba.

A crowd separates in two sides to open space for two horsemen on white and black horses as they go on opposite directions.

Performance still from Tatlin Whisper #5, at the Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom, 2008.

An eagle view photograph of people on hall with a high ceiling laying or kneeling on the ground alone and in groups. The floor they are situated on holds the image of a face.

Installation view of 10,145,277, at the Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom, 2018. Photo courtesy Tate Modern.

A close up photo of a shirtless person in white linen pants hanging from holes on a wall and looking towards a figure at the floor, dressed in white with black sunglasses laying inside a wooden box with two wheels and handles on each side. On the other side of the white room, aligned faces peak from holes carved on the wall.

Performance still from Endgame, at the São João National Theater, Porto, Portugal, 2017. Photo by Ricardo Castelo.

A figure sideways to the viewer sits with a book on the lap watching construction workers dressed in jean blue overalls and red safety hats drill on a dirt road.

Performance still from 100 hours reading of Hannah Arendt Origins of Totalitarianism, at the Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba, 2015. Photo by Estudio Bruguera.

A little girl looks at a person in makeshift stand building a salad. Greenery, radishes in a yellow plastic bag and a paper sit on one side and on the other various spices. Behind them aligned looking towards the stand sit people on white plastic chairs.

Documentation of Immigrant Movement International programming, 2011-2015. Photo by Librado Romero and The New York Times.

A figure behind a stand on a small stage with red drapes talks in a microphone while photographers and videographers stand opposite them with their back towards the viewer.

Performance still from Tatlin Whisper #6, at the Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba, 2009. Photo by Estudio Bruguera.