Title: Trust Workshop / Untitled (Moscow, 2007)
Medium: use of psychology techniques
Materials: Ex- KGB agent, street photographers, eagles, monkies, photographic paper, printer, ink
Dimensions: 13.12′ x 9.84′ x 6.56′
The idea of the piece is to find a former member of the KGB active during the Soviet government to offer consultancy services to people with problems or concerns on how to deal with some aspects of life or society. The former agent should apply the benefits of his psychological training to find solutions to their problems. An advertisement will be placed in the newspaper announcing a psychological service not a work of art; the position the person offering the service once held will not be mentioned. The purpose is to attract an audience not from art milieus, but more heterogeneous and interested in receiving this type of service.
Conversations will be videotaped with a sound similar to that in documentation strategies during KGB questionings. There will also be an attempt to reproduce the place where these agents carried out this type of meetings, Their individual approach techniques through psychological scrutiny are now used to return trust and confidence to the interviewed person, the opposite to what a state agent did: absorbing information for political or military purposes.
On the political imaginary(Survey Show). Neuberger Museum, Purchase College, State University of New York. Purchase New York, United States. Curated by Helaine Posner. (catalogue)
Trust Workshop / Untitled (Moscow, 2007) was activatedevery ThursdayfromJanuary 28to April 11
We are your future.TRUST WORKSHOP -UNTITLED (MOSCOW, 2007)-, Special project of the 2nd Moscow Biennal of Contemporary Art. The Winzavod Center of Contemporary Art, Syromyatnichesky Pereulok, Moscow, Russia. Curated by Ethan Cohen and Juan Puntes (catalogue)
March 2 – 28
Rather than create objects or events, I’ve chosen as an artist to embark on a series of works where I create temporal institutions that embed the contradictions they are dealing with as their symbolic dimension/capital. How to present this project to the art world poses an ethical question. Accord- ingly, the only appropriate audience for such a work is the group of Russians for whom the work was created. I solved the problem of exhibition by a formal announcement of this project’s title, Opening Reception, at its commencement during the second Moscow Biennial. Display in this case means, not a public showing nor access, but an announcement of the project’s existence. The existence then lies in either the imagination and speculation of the audience, or a real event conducted in the same discrete way in which the secret police works. The art world then serves as an advertisement space for the project with no concrete physical evidence.
For years, I have worked with the concept of fear as a powerful manipulative tool. In this piece, the initial fear was transformed into a comfort zone that slowly dissolved into a deeper and more permanent horror, being manipulated with our permission. Going into a room where you are entertained and where you can fantasize on your “family picture” being taken by nice and very energetic young people providing domesticated animals dressed as babies, covers the very fact of the act and the picture of Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, the creator of the Bolshevik secret police, the “Cheka”; later the Committee for State Security or KGB. From almost 76 people taken pictures during the 2 hours opening reception, only one person declined their participation after seeing the portrait in the wall, it was a middle age Russian.
The relationship between reality and art is one that has been explored endlessly; but oftentimes the art pr oduced under such parameters only relays its existence in a representative manner recognized solely in the art world. Such projects evade their responsibility as an active part of the reality that they are meant to address, and as a result what should be strategy exists only as a tactic. The works I create inhabit the parallel worlds of art and the reality of the addressed issue, encouraging audiences on either side to cross over and gain a deeper knowledge of the issue at hand.
We are your future. TRUST WORKSHOP / UNTITLED (MOSCOW, 2007)
Photos: Felix Dzerzhinsky and the 2nd Moscow Biennal of Contemporary Art
On the political imaginary (Survey Show)
New York, United States
Photos: Jim Frank
(by alphabetical order)
Bourland, Ian “PICKS; Critic’s Picks: Tania Bruguera,” Artforum International Magazine, March 15, 2010, New York, United States (illust.)
Bruguera, Tania “Trust Workshop – Opening Reception Russia 2007,” Printed Project, no. 7, March 2007, Ed. Kim Levin, Dublin, Ireland, 2007, (illust.) pp. 27 – 38. ISSN 1649-4075
Griffin, Jonathan “Tania Bruguera: Cuba, performance and society’s relationship to its history,” Frieze, Issue 118, October 2008. (illust.) pp. 286 – 287. ISSN 9-770-962-067014
Heartney, Eleanor. “TANIA BRUGUERA: Politics by Other Means,” Art in America, April 2010, (cover & illust.) pp. 98 – 105.
Posner, Helaine “Introduction,” Tania Bruguera: On the political imaginary, Ed Charta, Milano, Italy, 2009, (cover & illust.) pp.15 – 21. ISBN 978-88-8158-764-3
“(…) The third in the artist’s series of performances/installations, called Untitled (Moscow, 2007) or Trust Workshop, was a year- long project presented as part of the 2nd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. In this work, Bruguera set up a situation in which she invited Russian citizens to share their lingering distrust of Soviet officials with the workshop coordinator, a former KGB agent. They told personal stories of misfortune or political persecution to the agent, who used specialized skills developed in Cold War training to redress the painful psychological repercussions of the era and to begin to restore trust. The primary goal of the work shop was to heal the generational and ideological gaps that separate the Russian people as their country enters a new social, political, and economic era. Bruguera’s performance/installation took the form of a photography studio in which visitors were invited to pose for their portraits beneath a framed photograph of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Bolshevik secret police. The anxious participants and their families were asked to choose between having their picture taken with a live eagle or with a monkey. According to the artist, the eagle, poised on the subject’s shoulder, was intended to signify history, power, and the establishment, while the monkey, dressed in children’s clothing and propped on one’s lap, represented youth, pleasure, and the rise of capitalism in the new Russia. The choice was clearly symbolic: either one could hold on to the old ideology or cast off the vestiges of a repressive regime and move forward. In the untitled series the artist made a significant transition from exploring power relations within her own country to reflecting more broadly on the ways in which different social or political entities relate to their histories and issues of moral conscience and express their hopes and fears. The series is completed by Untitled (Bogotá, 2009) and Untitled (Palestine, 2009), currently in progress, which will be presented at the 3rd Riwaq Biennale and will examine some of the complexities of that contested site.”
Helaine Posner “Introduction”. New York, United States. January, 2010
“(…)a line of people waiting to enter the small room beside it that houses Untitled (Moscow, 2007) or Trust Workshop. Entry to this work, originally produced for the 2007 Moscow Biennale, is restricted to groups of two or three. Inside, visitors encounter a ramshackle room containing dilapidated furniture; piles of plaster flaking from the wall; a photograph of a military man who turns out to be Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet secret police; a live eagle; two monkeys (in Moscow, they were dressed in children’s clothing); and a photographer. The act of trust to which the title refers is the willingness to let one of the creatures sit on your shoulder while a picture is taken. In Moscow, the animals were meant to represent imperial authority and capitalism. “
Eleanor Heartney “TANIA BRUGUERA: Politics by Other Means”. New York, United States. April, 2010