After a total of 14 artists wrote an open letter to the Guardian, in which they condemned Cuban artist Tania Bruguera’s continued detention in her home country – includes four Turner Prize winners – Simon Starling, Mark Leckey, Jeremy Deller and Elizabeth Price – as well as Sir Anish Kapoor and the painter Howard Hodgkin. Now a New York State museum is reenacting the performance work that got Tania Bruguera arrested in Cuba.
As a sign of solidarity the Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College, in Purchase, New York, is staging ‘Tatlin’s Whisper’. The artist first staged ‘Tatlin’s Whisper’ at the 10th Havana Biennial in 2009. The performance invites participants to take to a podium to address subjects of their choosing, and states that each participant has “one minute free of censorship per speaker.”
Less than two weeks after President Obama announced that the United States would address its relations with Cuba, the artist attempted a version of the same performance in Havana’s Revolution Square, instead this time encouraging participants to share their dreams for Cuba’s future. Testing Cuba’s potentially new-found tolerance in light of America’s decision to normalise relations – as a Cuban-born, New York-based artist, she wanted to test the country’s tolerance of criticism.
The museum gave Bruguera its Roy R. Neuberger Exhibition Prize for emerging artists in 2010. The artist staged ‘Tatlin’s Whisper’ there, simulating the Cuban experience with the addition of two people wearing military fatigues.
“As we deem unfettered artistic self-expression and the free exchange of ideas, without fear of retribution, so critical, we are putting on view Tatlin’s Whisper as a reminder of this artist’s message and courage,” stated Tracy Fitzpatrick, the museum’s director in a press release.
Tatlin’s Whisper is on display at the Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College until 22 March 2015.