From Havana to Beijing, authoritarian governments continue to crack down on artists whose work sheds light on the social, political, and economic struggles faced by local populations. Yet despite increasing censorship and persecution, artists continue to engage with and shape political consciousness, both at home and abroad. Please join us for a conversation between Tania Bruguera, a Cuban artist, who was arrested in Havana last year after staging a provocative open-mike performance and Paul Ramirez Jonas, a New York City-based artist whose work challenges the boundaries between artwork and spectator, on the role artists can play in creating social, political, and cultural change.

Tania Bruguera, Self Sabotage, 2009. 53rd Venezia Biennale. photos: César Delgado Wixen.

Tania Bruguera, Self Sabotage, 2009. 53rd Venezia Biennale. photos: César Delgado Wixen.


Each semester, the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College spotlights a prominent public issue with events running through the term.  This fall, the focus falls on Politics, Policy and the Arts, with a series of special events co-sponsored by Hunter’s Arts Across the Curriculum program and the Department of Art and Art History. It will bring together artists, scholars and performers from across the spectrum of disciplines as well as policymakers and public officials. The events will include lectures, performances, faculty and student seminars, and a student art competition.

For information on other events in the spotlight series – see: Politics, Policy and the Arts.


Tania Bruguera  

New York-based Cuban artist Tania Bruguera is a politically motivated performance artist who explores the relationship between art, activism, and social change in works that examine the social effects of political and economic power. By creating proposals and aesthetic models for others to use and adapt, she defines herself as an initiator rather than an author, and often collaborates with multiple institutions as well as many individuals so that the full realization of her artwork occurs when others adopt and perpetuate it.  This past year she was selected to be the first artist-in-residence for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, an unusual yearlong appointment in which she will help the agency recruit undocumented immigrants for the city’s highly popular new municipal identification card program. Bruguera attended art schools in Havana, including the Instituto Superior de Arte (1987-92), and received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2001).

Paul Ramirez Jonas  

Paul Ramirez Jonas holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design (1989) and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University (1987). His honors include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, ArtMatters, the Howard Foundation, the International Studio Program in Sweden, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts, among others. Paul Ramírez Jonas’ selected solo exhibitions include The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut, The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas; a survey at Ikon Gallery (UK) and Cornerhouse (UK); Alexander Gray Gallery (NYC); Roger Björkholmen (Sweden); and Postmasters Gallery (NYC). He has built permanent projects in Cambridge, MA and a permanent public sculpture for the Hudson River Park, New York City. In 2010, Creative Time presented his “Key to the City” project in New York City.

Tania Bruguera in conversation with Paul Ramirez Jonas (Politics, Policy, and the Arts) | Posted on October 1st, 2015 | Politics Policy and the Arts, Public Programs