Cuban installation and performance artist Tania Bruguera, who was to participate in the Kochi Muziris Biennale this year, has been arrested in her hometown for anti-government protests. According to reports, Tania and three others were arrested and taken to the Vivac prison outside Havana, three days ago, for protesting Decree 349, which puts restrictions on artistic freedom.
Bruguera, along with the other artists, had begun a hunger strike against the proposed decree, which aims to criminalise independent artists and clamp down heavily on cultural activity, which isn’t state organised. The decree was set to become a law in Cuba on December 9.
The Cuban artist whose work mostly revolved around the concept of power and freedom, was to give a lecture and performance in the first week of the Biennale, which begins on Wednesday, December 12.
As a result of her detention in Cuba, it is unlikely that she will be able to attend the Biennale, organisers say.
Anita Dube, the curator of Kochi Muziris Biennale 2018, told the Times of India that the incident is unfortunate and concerning and an example of increasing state intervention on artists’ freedom.
Tania Bruguera is an independent artist, whose father worked as a minister in the Fidel Castro government.
Kochi Muziris Biennale founder Bose Krishnamachari said that he was shocked and saddened to hear the arrest of the artist for protesting for her freedom. “Censorship is a serious issue all over the world and as artists, we are all worried about its widening net,” he told TOI.
Kochi Muziris Biennale, the international exhibition for contemporary art held annually in Kochi, will begin on December 12 this year. The fourth edition of the Biennale will be curated by artist Anita Dube and will be focused on the theme 'knowledge laboratory'.
"My earliest intuitive vision for this edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is to explore the possibilities for a non-alienated life that has remained with me,” she had said earlier.
Several artists from all over the world will perform at the exhibition held in different parts of Kochi this year.