“It’s not about the visual.

It is about feeling something.”

For the Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, being an artist is an ethical and civic mission: her artistic career centres around the importance of social engagement. In her practice, art is a synonym for activism, an agent for social change.


Until 24 February 2019, Tania’s work can be seen at Tate Modern, London. In response to the crisis in migration, she focused on the status of the neighbour and what it means to act and interact locally. She worked with Tate’s neighbours to create direct action: institutional changes took place, including the temporary renaming of part of the museum. She stimulated collective action by covering a dark, thermo-reacting surface on the Turbine Hall floor, inviting individuals to leave temporary imprints: only the collective heat of the audience reveals the hidden portrait of a Syrian migrant. In addition, in a white room, visitors experience forced empathy when a chemical compound provokes uncontrollable tears. The two spaces form a complex installation which reflects on the epochal tragedies in refugee and migrant experiences and on the insufficiency of our moral response. 


Poetically yet provocatively, Tania demands visitors to show solidarity, compelling them to act, share and feel together.


Photo credits: Courtesy of Tate

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