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Tania Bruguera Announces 2018 Bid for Cuban Presidency

On October 14, in a video that was released at the Creative Time Summit—a conference that focuses on art and social change in Washington, DC—Cuban artist Tania Bruguera announced that she would run in Cuba’s 2018 presidential race “to change the culture of fear.”

Since Bruguera’s bid cannot be realized––presidential candidates can only be elected by the National Assembly––the video is more of a performance than the start of a presidential campaign.

“Let’s use the 2018 elections to build a different Cuba,” Bruguera said, “to build a Cuba where we are all in charge and not only the few.” In the ninety-second video, she urges Cubans to imagine themselves running for office and asks them to upload videos in which they talk about their platforms. “Let’s start thinking, What if we actually had that power,” she said. “Who would we be? What would we do?”

Known for producing controversial works that often explore the intersection between art, activism, and politics, Bruguera was arrested several times in 2014 and 2015 for attempting to reenact her performance Tatlin’s Whisper (#6), in which individuals were invited to talk about freedom of speech in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución.

In a 500 Words with artforum.com, Bruguera said, “Most frequently, artists denounce or visualize problems, make art a tool to build small-scale prototypes of a different society, or directly challenge the status quo by generating a political situation. From my perspective, it is a misrepresentation when the mere use of an image of a politician or of a political event is automatically deemed ‘political art.’ Political art is uncomfortable knowledge. It is not art of the past or of the present but of the future.”

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