Feeling Good is Not Enough: Create a Political Moment

28.03.2017 / 06:00 p.m.
The Hannah Arendt Center
for Politics and Humanities
Bard College
PO Box 5000
New York 12504, US

Seminar Dinner and Lecture

Courage To Be College Seminar Dinner & Lecture Series, with Tania Bruguera

To resist is not enough. Filling the streets with bodies can look like a battleground that has created the feeling of an election. Use chants as if they were drums in order to spread the waves of commitment and slogans in order to highlight all the things that are wrong. But the streets are not enough. Be an active individual: it shows them you are not afraid. Learn the language of power, use the verbs they are scared of, publicly unveil their worst nightmare – act for them, not for us. Behave on a one-to-one scale with those you consider responsible. Laugh intelligently but never laugh before you begin. Laugh after your goal is achieved after your opposition is tricked, conflicted and incoherent because you took their power away with a simple human gesture. Don’t laugh about what they do, laugh about what you were able to do to them. What we know is not enough. Be persistent without tiring others. Use forms and actions that are legible for the resistance but new to the repressors. The time you have is the time they are using to figure out how to respond. Feeling good is not enough: create a political moment.

Tania Bruguera was born in 1968 in Havana, Cuba. Bruguera, a politically motivated performance artist, explores the relationship between art, activism, and social change in works that examine the social effects of political and economic power. By creating proposals and aesthetic models for others to use and adapt, she defines herself as an initiator rather than an author, and often collaborates with multiple institutions as well as many individuals so that the full realization of her artwork occurs when others adopt and perpetuate it. She expands the definition and range of performance art, sometimes performing solo but more often staging participatory events and interactions that build on her own observations, experiences, and interpretations of the politics of repression and control. Bruguera has explored both the promise and failings of the Cuban Revolution in performances that provoke viewers to consider the political realities masked by government propaganda and mass-media interpretation. Advancing the concept of arte útil (literally, useful art; art as a benefit and a tool), she proposes solutions to sociopolitical problems through the implementation of art, and has developed long-term projects that include a community center and a political party for immigrants, and a school for behavior art. (art21.org)