Video Picks: Tania Bruguera – politics at the heart of making art

Tania Bruguera’s work is unapologetically political.

Her artworks are normally concept (ideas) driven. They are examples of socially engaged art- i.e. she often asks her audience participate in her work to raise important questions about how we live our lives and what it means to be human. Bruguera focuses particularly on examining political power structures and how they impact society’s more vulnerable groups.


Video: Tania Bruguera – Surplus Value – The Tanks, courtesy of Tate. In this piece at the Tate called ‘Surplus Value’, she played with the audience’s perspective even before they entered the exhibition. She had the guards randomly select people to skip the queue whilst others had to wait for long periods of time and carry out lie detector tests. The process of queuing and waiting to get into the exhibition space was part of the artwork. Watch the video for the full story.


In another piece Bruguera made for the 10th Havana Biennial (Cuba) called ‘Tatlin’s Whisper #6’, the artist constructed a raised podium in a central courtyard, handed out disposable cameras and invited members of the audience to step up to the podium and exercise one minute of free speech. This was an incredibly powerful action in a country that has repressed free speech for over fifty years.

Most importantly, Tania Bruguera makes work that aims to bring attention to people’s experiences, voices and stories that are otherwise unheard, which is another reason for why the work is described as ‘socially engaged’. She works closely with people and thinks about the importance of the location- its political history and the politics of its people.


Find out more about the course Ruby studied:

BA (Hons) Fine Art

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