English

Over the years Tania Bruguera has identified, deconstructed, and repurposed words and concepts, creating a lexicon. Her intervention into the language of art follows her interest in questioning structures of power. This conceptual appropriation of knowledge—meant to update old meanings, to cross-pollinate disciplines, and to question the role of art— forms the understructure of a lifelong political performance.

>  A-Legal
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The law codifies a sense of social order through ideas of rights and permissibility, but there is an always-changing array of social constructs that escape the slow process of cultural acceptance and legal regulation. A-legal is a concept in Spanish that goes beyond the idea of a loophole to describe what the law has been unable to recognize, and therefore regulate. Combining artistic creativity with knowledge of the law, one can create a situation that remains unregulated and therefore free to propose a new way to operate, both socially and politically. This methodology uses the autonomy of art as a tool for permissibility, where unregulated acts push on the legality of a space that is beyond consequences.

 


 


>  Arte de Conducta (Behavior Art)
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/ The following concept was generated by the artist to define her practice.

 

Arte de conducta (behavior art) is the presentation of a situation that challenges the audience to become active citizens. This reaction of the audience completes/finishes/continues/gives meaning to the artwork. The artist is an instigator. The artwork is not the physical elements presented in the space but the aftermath of the experience—the ensuing process of behavioral change. The works invite participants to question and unlearn normative behaviors. They do not seek to resolve specific problems, but to lay out a quandary in which new behaviors are rehearsed and potential future scenarios are imagined.

 

 

 

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Arte de Conducta it is expressed in the use of social behavior (the language through which society communicates) taken by art as its work material for public and social art. Arte de Conducta has its roots in conceptual art and performance, but instead of focusing on the limits of language and the physical body it works with the reaction and behavior created in those who witness the work and participate in it, thus giving rise to a process where the audience transforms into citizenship. Just as behavior enters into social life from one generation to another through memory based on experiences, oral tradition or rumors, the documentation of Arte de Conducta pieces, although using the traditional means of documentation, tries to incorporate to collective memory as a form of long term social permanence and dialogue. Social beings are aware of symbolic meanings, also the result of experience, expressing through behavior and the exercise modeling its meanings to transform praxis. That is why Arte de Conducta focuses on the civil aspect of society.

 

Arte de Conducta is not concerned by forms. It uses behavior as a linguistic tool and cancels aesthetic purposes not stemming from a relationship with ethics. It is interested in the possibility of functioning and not of showing off. It moves away from the allegoric representations of the piece and tries to understand and manage elements from within society to provide moments and found institutional structures or systems which will contribute to the modification of some given aspects of society.

 


>  Arte Util
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/The following concept was generated by the artist to define her practice

 

Arte útil roughly translates into English as “useful art,” but it goes further, suggesting art as a tool or device. Arte útil draws on artistic thinking to imagine, create, and implement tactics that change how we act in society. This work methodology transforms social affect into political effectiveness through realizable utopias. Instead of focusing on production, arte útil generates a process of social implementation. The “usefulness” in arte útil is not about problem solving to improve the efficiency of the system, but about creating an altogether new system via a-legal loopholes. Arte útil shifts from production to a process of social implementation. (2017)

 

 

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Arte Útil aims to transform some aspects of society through the implementation of art, transcending symbolic representation or metaphor and proposing with their activity some solutions for deficits in reality. Most Arte Útil artist structured as a long-term project and the way it operates is dictated by the practical impact of their strategies. Arte Útil practices try to address the levels of disparities of engagement between informed audiences and the general public, as well as the historical gap between the language used in what is considered avant-garde and the language of urgent politics, science and other disciplines.

 

Bruguera created the Arte Útil Association in January 2011 to provide a platform to meet, exchange ideas, and share strategies on how to deal with the issues of implementing the merger of art into society. The association will work in an open manner through discussions, printed texts, actions groups, and public events examining what it means to create Arte Útil.  (2011)

 

Link to Arte Útil website: http://www.arte-util.org/about/activities/

 

 

 

>  Artist as Initiator
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Authorship is a modernist vestige. When creating social or politically engaged art, it is inaccurate for the artist to claim all the results of their work. Under the artist as initiator model, the authorship of the artist is limited to sparking the process; the participants then take the idea into their own context and culture, developing it beyond the original desire of the artist. This practice understands art as a temporary state of things, one that seeps into people’s lives and cultures.

 

 

>  Est-Etica
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/ The following concept was generated by the artist to define her practice.


Est- ética proposes to see aesthetics as the construction and implementation of a functioning new ethical ecosystem, displacing the understanding of aesthetics from a visual exercise into an ethical one. In est-ética the aesthetic shock presents itself after a moral shock. It is the realization that what was previously thought impossible to change in society could, indeed, be changed. It is not a system of representation, but of presentation and assertion of the possibilities of social change.

 


>  Institutional Self-Criticism
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/ The following concept was generated by the artist to define her practice.


Institutional self-criticism does not destruct to construct but rather the opposite—it constructs to destruct. Its aim is to establish a parallel institution so effective that it destroys the other, replacing it. Institutional self-criticism focuses on changing the institution itself via the consciousness that its officials, customers, and intended public attain through the process of executing the artwork—without falling into fatalistic or victimizing positions. Therefore, it is propaedeutic, strategic, and non-representational: the platform of art is used to create, strategically, a model institution as reality. It is not shown through idealized examples but rather becomes the real thing itself. It presents a solution, not represent it. Since an alternative institution must be established that is recognized by people and by the institution itself, works of institutional self-criticism are of a very long duration.

 


>  Long Term Projects
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Long-term projects can stretch over years, involving a work method that disrupts a social or political status quo. Long-term projects are best experienced when the participants are part of the process, and thus they demand a longer commitment than is necessary when experiencing artworks of a shorter duration. Seeing these projects solely through the demands of the art institution or as “artworks” betrays the goal of the work and results in ethical imprecisions. This kind of work is not validated only through art; it must have an impact and measurable effect. The collective nature of these projects requires the artist to function as an initiator rather than a unique author, and conceives of the participant as a collaborator. (2017)

 

 

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A Long-Term project is a work method that tries to fall within social dynamics and, therefore,makes use of social tempo for production and for the implementation of the project.

Long-Term projects are best experienced when the audience incorporates into the process and the dynamics generated by the project, demanding a larger commitment from them than when experiencing art works on a more passive and purely artistic context. Very frequently these works are experienced in a fragmented way when the project is larger than the commitment from the audience or because of the natural progressive evolution of the project. They may also be seeing it out of context due to inaccessibility of the project or if seeing a posteriori. (2011)

 


 


>  Political Timing-Specific
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/ The following concept was generated by the artist to define her practice. 

 

 

Site-specific art responds to its physical, geographical, or social conditions. Political timing-specific art expands these coordinates to include the political conditions that mark a particular moment. Political events define and shape the work—these are understood as significant issues of public concern, particularly those related to governance and its implementation through policy, propaganda, journalism, and public opinion. The work provides an answer to a specific situation that is born of a necessity, not just the artist’s desires. The artwork evolves with the political moment, and its realization is in the consequences it generates. Once the moment passes, the piece loses its potential impact and becomes a document. (2017)

 

 

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A work method in which the piece is linked to and depends of the political circumstances existing in the moment it is made or exhibited. It is a type of work created to exist at a specific political moment and, therefore, once the moment goes by, the piece loses its potential political impact and tends to become a document of a specific political moment. The political moment informs the piece making it a structure that must adapt to the evolution of the political events and their interpretations. (2011)

 

 

 

>  Self Sabotage
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“Artists should self-sabotage.

 

The way artists should survive is by losing our memory, not considering the work we have done as accumulated capital; we should be ready to lose our individual history at any moment.

 

The audience should also stop being protected.

 

Artists should self-sabotage the expectations we have created with our work. We should do likewise with the expectations of previously designed careers in which it seems that artists are rather small-corporation managers, demonstrating the productive capacity of concepts linked with the conception of a capitalist society, and not as a new idea of society, a society that may not yet exist, a society we intend to debate.

 

Artists should self-sabotage our relationship with others in the world of art by not pleasing them, and especially not pleasing institutions.

 

Artists should self-sabotage by quitting our work, by leaving our comfortable positions and looking for difficult sites, one that we do not understand, leave aside doing design and live.”

 

 

Tania Bruguera, Culture as a Strategy to Survive (2009) 

 

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>  Short Term Projects
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Short-term projects are single actions characterized by an incisive appropriation of the images, iconic events, and propaganda of power, which are then restructured as disruptive gestures that critique the state and its social controls, as well as our own role in the perpetuation of those structures. 

 


>  Transitional Institution
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/ The following concept was generated by the artist to define her practice.


A transitional institution is an artistic intervention that intends to create a moment of institutional self-critique by repurposing an institution and its assets. Its implementation involves the examination of the nature of political power structures and their effect on the lives of society’s vulnerable individuals and groups. Its full realization occurs when others evaluate, adopt, or evolve the proposals given by the transitional institution. 

 

 

 

>  Update
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Performance and politically timed artworks are unique experiences—they cannot be repeated. Their subsequent exhibition and display, removed from the work’s original situation, brings questions of how a new audience can connect to a social and political artwork when its urgencies are not in sync with the current moment or the audience’s sensibilities. To update a work means to reformulate it in relation to the original urgency that generated it, making it relevant to today’s political context.