We are shocked and appalled at recent images showing European Alternatives board member, the Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera, with her arms covered in bruises obtained from her most recent arrest by Cuban authorities. Freedom of speech and expression are fundamental to a free and democratic society. They should be welcomed, not attacked.
Bruguera’s most recent arrest, on May 28, came months after her initial arrest on December 30, 2014. It happened in broad daylight during the Havana Biennale, and was caught on video. In the video, Bruguera is calm and fully cooperative. A week later on June 9, images of her severely bruised arms were shared on her Facebook page.
As relations between Cuba and the United States undergo an historic transformation, the rest of the world must not overlook the Cuban government’s systematic and violent efforts to suppress not only criticism of itself, but the mere act of artistic and political discourse. Since her initial arrest, Bruguera’s passport has been revoked. She has been given the option of leaving Cuba on the condition that she never return.
Bruguera’s art is neither doctrinaire nor prescriptive. It challenges us to engage in the political and the social realms. The piece for which she was originally arrested, Tatlin’s Whisper, invited people to speak freely for one minute. A minute of free speech proved a minute too much for the Cuban government.
European Alternatives denounces the actions of Cuban authorities and calls on political leaders in Europe and the United States to advocate on Bruguera’s behalf specifically, and on the right to free expression more broadly. European Alternatives calls on artists and curators – specifically those present at the Havana Biennale to act visibly to urge the Cuban government to change its behaviour. We ask that you help spread her story.