Bruguera is calling for civic alfabetización: a campaign to educate locals about their rights as humans. She wants to open the Institute of Artivism/Instituto de
"I realized that a lot of the political violence was because people lack understanding of their rights," Bruguera says. "We cannot read what we want, some things are forbidden, and we cannot write what we think. We need to learn to be free. A lot of Cubans do not know what freedom is.
"With all this transition, education should be a key element for people to understand what's going on."
Cuba is in the midst of historic change. After President Obama's visit, American corporations Cisco, General Electric, and Google have already announced they're working on deals with the Cuban government. But as commercial doors open, locals still suffer from censorship. Dissident artists and activists are getting detained on a weekly basis. Most recently, Danilo Maldonado Machado "El Sexto" was detained for four hours while attending a Porno Para Ricardo concert — Escándalo Público — held the same day as the Rolling Stones concert.
Bruguera is no stranger to this plight. After Obama announced neutralizing ties with Cuba in December 2014, the artist was detained three times for trying to organize a public performance about free speech in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución. She had planned to set up a microphone and invite people to express their visions for Cuba.
"I was censored and [the piece] forbidden to show in Cuba. I realized then that this new relationship with the U.S., it was not for us," she says. "We need to have
She plans to open INSTAR in her home in Old Havana, a central neighborhood where locals and tourists coexist. The institute will host artists, politicians, economists, and philosophers from all over who can engage and educate the local Cuban community. But most important, the institute will use art as a powerful communication tool. Bruguera sees art as a way to help people project the change they want to see.
"We want to change the culture of complaining to a culture of action," she says. "I think artists can work and deal with the imagination of people; through
She's crowdfunding the project through Kickstarter and has already surpassed her $100,000 goal. The prizes Bruguera has designed for donors are not typical benefits. Pledging $100 will get you a message "mule" — the artist will personally deliver a message to whomever you want in Cuba. A donation of $250 or more can get you a "blackmail" — she'll have someone follow you around and find something to blackmail you with. These prizes are representative of the lack of trust Cubans experience daily.
"I want people who pledge to understand the psychological pressure you're under when you do this type of work. I came up with rewards that reproduce in a way what you have to go through or how you feel," she says. "In Cuba, there is a phrase that I love: 'No
Now that INSTAR is fully funded, the project will begin this September. Ultimately, Bruguera hopes to see Cuba move away from the
Institute of Artivism/Instituto de
You can still donate via Kickstarter until Thursday, April 7. Visit artivism.institute for further updates.