Cuban Artist Won’t Let The Bronx Museum Show Her Work—Which They Own

Tania Bruguera says the institution is too cozy with the Cuban government

A David Hammons flag piece hanging on the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana, Cuba.

A David Hammons flag piece hanging on the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana, Cuba. Courtesy of the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Photo by Joel Greenberg Photography

Cuban artist Tania Bruguera has pulled her work from the planned Bronx Museum show of Cuban works that has been dogged with political and logistical issues, the New York Times reported.

The museum will comply with the often controversial artist’s request, they told the Times.

It’s just the latest development to hobble the two-country museum shows that were originally thought to be harbingers of a new era of peaceful cultural exchange between Cuba and the U.S.

“Wild Noise,” the second half of an exhibition exchange with the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (MNBA) in Havana, Cuba, was postponed last year due to seizure fears from Cuban officials. In May 2015, the Cuban version of the exhibit, featuring over 90 works on loan from the permanent collection of the Bronx Museum, opened in Havana.

Tania Bruguera.

Tania Bruguera. (Photo: Claudio Fuentes, Courtesy Studio Bruguera)

The reciprocal exhibition was more complicated—the restitution claims of over $7 billion from Americans for property confiscated in Cuba since 1959, when Fidel Castro came to power, made Cuban museums nervous about lending state-owned artworks. The U.S. was not offering immunity from seizure to the lending institutions.

The American side of the show was postponed to this January and then canceled earlier this week, possibly due to fears relating to the incoming administration. In its stead, a show of works from public and private collections, including works by Bruguera, was announced for February 17.

Now, Bruguera, likely the most visible Cuban artist in the U.S., wants her work excluded because she believes the Bronx Museum was too friendly with the Cuban government during the negotiations of the exchange, and should have “supported” her when she was denied entry to a museum show in Havana in 2015. The new Bronx Museum show was going to include a Bruguera video from its permanent collection.

The museum says it supports Bruguera and will continue to, and will remove the work from the exhibit per her request, according to a statement sent to the Times.

Cuban Artist Won’t Let The Bronx Museum Show Her Work—Which They Own