What is Art For?

06.10.2016 / 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
University of Houston – Moores Opera House, 3800 Cullen Boulevard. Houston, United States.

Mitchell Artist Lecture featuring Tania Bruguera

The University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts brings back the Mitchell Artist Lecture, a landmark public program that annually features major figures in the world of artistic collaboration. The Center’s 2016 speaker is artist and political activist Tania Bruguera. Born in Havana, Cuba, Bruguera 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. 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. Recognized as one of the 100 Leading Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine, shortlisted for the #Index100 Freedom of Expression Award 2016, Bruguera is a 2015 Herb Alpert Award winner, a Hugo Boss Prize finalist, a Yale World Fellow and is the first artist-in-residence in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA). In 2013 she was part of the team creating the first document on artistic freedom and cultural rights with the United Nation’s Human Rights Council. In her Mitchell Lecture, Bruguera will discuss the ways in which art can be applied to the everyday political life; focusing on the transformation of social affect into political effectiveness. Her long-term projects have been intensive interventions on the institutional structure of collective memory, education and politics. 

In her Mitchell Lecture, Bruguera will provide a multi-media overview of her artistic, scholarly and activist work. This lecture is presented in partnership with the Latin Maecenas, patron group of the Latin American art department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, with additional support from the Blaffer Art Museum.

About the Mitchell Artist Lecture

Presented by the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, this free lecture series hosts groundbreaking artists who have made significant contributions to the global political landscape. Bruguera joins a list of esteemed performers who have participated in this series including dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones, multimedia artist and musician Laurie Anderson, jazz musician Jason Moran and stage star Alicia Hall Moran.

About the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts

The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts is dedicated to groundbreaking, transformative collaborations across the performing, visual, and literary arts. Based at the University of Houston, the Mitchell Center commissions and produces new works, presents public performances and exhibitions, offers curriculum and scholarships, and hosts residencies with renowned visiting artists from throughout the world. The Mitchell Center forms an alliance among five departments at UH: the School of Art, Moores School of Music, School of Theatre & Dance, Creative Writing Program, and Blaffer Art Museum.