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Tania Bruguera Commits To Civic Education Of Cubans

Tania Commits To Civic Of Cubans / 14ymedio, Mario Penton
Posted on April 1, 2016

Kickstarter campaign will fund “civic and artistic alternative to the
emphasis in Cuba on money as the unique salvation to the problems of the

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 1 April 2016 — When in late 2014 the
Cuban artist Tania Bruguera attempted to stage her performance
of Tatlin’s Whisper in the Plaza of the Revolution, she felt firsthand
the repression and censorship to which all voices who dissent from the
government’s cultural guidelines are subjected.

Bruguera, who defines herself as an artivist, has created the Hannah
Arendt International Institute of Artivism (INSTAR), with a site in
Havana that, in the words of its founder, “will be a civic and artistic
alternative to the emphasis in Cuba right now on economic projects, and
with money as the unique salvation to the problems of the country.”

The objective of the new campaign is the civic literacy of the
citizenry. This is a project that seeks “to work with Cubans, from
housewives and professionals to activists and students, so that they can
participate in or initiate change in their own communities.” Her
inspiration has been the thinking of the German philosopher Hannah
Arendt, author of the classic The Origins of Totalitarianism.

“We are at a moment when the Cuban government is not concerned about
preserving the ethic principles and social justice that we seek to
defend because there is no national project,” commented the artivist to

In her opinion, the Cuban government is currently engaged in
consolidating their personal economic power, with which they will also
guarantee their permanence in political power. Cuba is caught between a
civic and an ideological crisis because there is no long-term strategic
vision for the country.

According to Bruguera her motivations for creating this campaign are
based on the observation of Cuban reality. “We are accepting as normal
corruption on the part of institutions and the citizenry. There is a
calculated government effort to ensure that citizens do not feel
empowered, because they are afraid,” she says.

The institute seeks to place Cuba’s future in the hands of Cubans,
affirming that asking for their rights cannot wait until everything is
decided and irreversible. “The time to intervene in Cuba’s future is now.”

The use of crowdfunding as a financing mechanism is an important element
of the campaign with regards to money, which “is a very sensitive topic
for Cuban projects.” This method, according to Bruguera, is democratic,
because it forces the project to serve the citizenry and is a real
commitment if one truly desires change. In addition, the artist added,
INSTAR will be transparent with its accounting, showing where its
financing comes from and where it goes, something it is hoped will
spread to other civil society groups and to the government “as a part of
their own working strategies.”

With seven days to go in the campaign, it has already exceeded its goal
of $100,000 from almost 700 donations. The money will be used to
purchase the equipment needed to carry out the project in Cuba, as well
as to pay artists and fund the necessary logistics.

The citizen education workshops will be developed based on the demands
of the participants, who the organization hopes will come from the
entire political, social and cultural spectrum of the nation, under “the
principles of transparency, respect and equality that govern INSTAR.”

The artivist summarizes the strategy of the institute in three actions:
“Longing, Thinking and Acting. We want to convert ideas into civic
action.” The desires and complaints of the participants will lead to the
discussion of existing alternatives, presented by national and foreign
guests, and the most realistic way of implementing them. Finally they
will be put into action, “mobilizing and visualizing them with the
creativity of the activists and artivists.”

Cuban State Security has begun pressuring those linked to the project.
The permits to finished preparing the site that will house the institute
took eight months to acquire, and the project manager charged with
completing the construction asked them not to call him any more because
State Security had “been to see” him. “We know we will be under a great
deal of pressure because this project signifies a peaceful solution and
achieving a civic education,” comments Bruguera.

Despite government barriers, Bruguera isn’t considering wavering in her
intent. “Art committed to social activism is the path we have chosen for
INSTAR as a relevant institution in the conquest of Cubans’ civil rights
and for its direct impact on everyday life,” she concludes.

Source: Tania Bruguera Commits To Civic Education Of Cubans / 14ymedio,
Mario Penton | Translating Cuba –

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