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1599 painter Anthony Van Dyck was born in Antwerp Belgium

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1832 died Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet, dramatist, novelist, scientist, and painter.

Tania Bruguera's Greatest Hits

Art Criticism - Thursday, March 11, 2010
Tania Bruguera's Greatest Hits
Performance Artists have been enjoying a major resurgence in popularity around the world. Spearheading this renaissance are museums and biennales. And why not! Such unique, one-of-a-kind, theatrical events, where anything can happen and usually does, is primo entertainment. It is also, comparatively speaking for the producing organizations, with little or no shipping costs, a money saving venture. Here in New York and environs four major art museums are playing host to the art of performance. At the Museum of Modern Art four decades of Marina Abramović’s work is on view. All except one piece are being re-performed by other people. At the Guggenheim with not a painting in sight, The Kiss and This Progress, two of Tino Sehgal’s live “constructed situations” are taking up the museum’s lobby and exhibition ramps, while at the Whitney Biennial some ten artists can be seen performing both live and on film.
Tania Bruguera -  Unititled (Havana 2000)
Tania Bruguera - Unititled (Havana 2000)
At the Neuberger Museum of Art, an hour outside of New York City, Cuban born, Chicago based artist Tania Bruguera whose work rooted in personal experience examines the relationship between ideology, power, and social behavior, is having a twenty year retrospective justly titled On the Political Imaginary. Using Bruguera trained performing artists, Neuberger, under the watchful eye of curator Helaine Posner, has faithfully recreated a dozen of the artist’s most politically provocative works, the most poignant being supported by cleverly designed installations that threaten, frighten, lecture, educate, and entertain, albeit in a carnivalesque way. Leading viewers into the exhibition is Poetic Justice (2002-2003), a pungent smelling teabag lined tunnel, a metaphor which refers to the economic and colonial relationship between the colonized and the master, in this case, India under the British Empire.
Tania Bruguera - Burden of Guilt 1997-1999
Tania Bruguera - Burden of Guilt 1997-1999
In Untitled (Havana, 2002) and Untitled (Kassel, 2002 – each installation is named after the country where they were first performed – near total blackness cloaks the artist’s message. In Havana, we find ourselves in a darkened room walking on a dangerously uneven layer rotting sugarcane husks. At the far end of the room, on a small and barely discernable TV screen, Castro is delivering one of his interminably long speeches. Hugging the walls of the room, four naked men, nearly invisible to the eye, stand imitating the empty gestures of their iconic leader. In Kassel, another dark room, one moment we are in totally darkness, the next, blinded by blazing overhead lights. Punctuating both darkness and light is the sound of loud footsteps and a gun being loaded and reloaded, harrowing interrogation tactics that scarily command our full attention. In Untitled (Moscow, 2007) and Tatlin’s Whisper #6 (Havana Version) Bruguera, changing her tactics, invites us to be actors in her scenarios rather than passive participants. In Moscow, ushered into small room, we are invited to pose beneath a framed photograph of the founder of the Bolshevik secret police. We are given a choice of posing with an eagle, representing the power of the old establishment, or a monkey signifying the rise of capitalism in Russia. In Tatlin’s Whisper #6, as performed in Cuba, citizens were escorted to the stage by individuals dressed in military fatigues and given a minute to talk about anything they wanted to say. Freedom of speech, blogs and the Internet, all censorship related, were the hot topics. Not surprisingly, the Havana Biennale authorities shut down Bruguera’s presentation after one performance. Though many of the works on view are shorn of their ultimate power – how could it be otherwise in a democratic society – viewers are given more than a whiff of what life is like for those less fortunate. by Edward Rubin

 

 

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