Friday, August 3, 2012

Art as a form of political or social currency

Tate Modern’s experimental art space, The Tanks, offers a line-up of unconventional and engaging performance as well as events. Among them, Tania Bruguera takes up residence in The Tanks with her ongoing art project, ‘Immigrant Movement International’.

It’s an artist-initiated socio-political movement, which looks to explore who is defined as an immigrant and the values they share, focusing on the issue of what it means to be a citizen of the world.

Tania Bruguera (born in Havana, Cuba, 1968) currently lives and works in Queens, New York. Her work is multifaceted and spans performance, event, action, film, installation, writing and teaching, alongside site-specific works including Untitled (Kassel, 2002) for Documenta 11 and Tatlin’s Whisper #5 (2008) at Tate Modern, alongside long-term projects such as the Cátedra Arte de Conducta (Behaviour Art School), an institution that existed from 2002 to 2009 in Havana, Cuba.

A key player within the fields of performance, interdisciplinary practice and activism, her work is grounded in the act of ‘doing’ – she calls this ‘behaviour art’ – and her aim is to create art that doesn’t merely describe itself as dealing with politics or society, but that is actually a form of political or social currency, actively addressing cultural power structures rather than representing them. She is also extremely interested in the role of the museum as an active forum and the role of ‘useful art’ in society at large today.

‘Immigrant Movement International’ was originally presented by Creative Time in collaboration with the Queens Museum of Art. The project is expected to run until 2015. Meanwhile, New York based Japanese artist Ei Arakawa takes up a week long residency in the Tanks. Slide shows of works by artists Silke Otto-Knapp and Florian Pumhösl will be projected on to the walls of the Tank, alongside a large scale reproduction of Jutta Koether’s painting ‘La Femme’ to provide a theatrical backdrop for the week’s series of collaborative performances and actions.

Inspired by Arakawa’s research into the Jikken Kobo and Gutai groups whose activities took place in the 1950s in post-war Japan, exploring performance and cross-disciplinary action. During the week, visitors are invited to join Arakawa for JOY OF LIFE, an art historical workshop with Harumi Nishizawa and Miwako Tezuka; the new generation of Japanese art historians of the pre and post-War period, exploring the relationship between art and theatre in the 1920s, early ballet productions in Japan, pre-Gutai Gutai and Jikken Kobo.

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