Thursday, March 22, 2018

Tania Bruguera's Untitled (Havana, 2000) at MoMA

No more than four people are allowed in at a time, but the long wait is worth the experience of Tania Bruguera’s Untitled (Havana, 2000). Entering the exhibit, one’s eyes will take some time to adjust to the near pitch-black room, providing an opening for other senses to kick in and take notice of the heavy aroma of sugar cane crackling beneath one’s feet. The room is warm and the air feels heavy as the spectators trek forward blindly until the single light source above dimly reveals the silhouettes of four nude men slowly  - and repetitively – motioning as if they are washing their hands. Eventually viewers will discover the single light source in a small television screen playing footage of Fidel Castro.
The entire experience is haunting – from the nude apparitions restricted to the footage of Fidel Castro shedding the only visible light. The single light serves as a representation of Castro’s absolute control of the media and of the state. It feels oppressive, as if the viewer being watched. The work is unnerving and somber, and through its complete sensory command can touch one’s core. While the wait to get in is long and time spent with the work may be brief, the effects of this installation will stay with the viewer long after leaving the museum.


  1. I'm so glad we got to experience this work. You're right in saying that this work has such an immersive quality that whoever experiences it will absolutely remember it. I think you can push how blind you are when walking into the silo-like space (I thought about turning back to safety). You describe the work and how someone experiences it well. I find some your sentences too long though. Also, were there six performers? Do you want to use the word cleansing or cleaning? I also think you can get rid of the last sentence. How the work affects those who experience it is stronger for a last sentence.

  2. I waited almost two hours to get in, I think the long waiting has became a part of the experience of the work. I read the description on the wall again and again, and imagine what the work looks like while I am waiting.
    The work is time-based not only because of the video but also viewer need time to adjust their eyes. Which is also an important experience of this work. I think what made this work successful is because the multi-media she used in the work. The concrete dome, sugar cane, and video they all different materials that have symbolic meanings, even human body, they all connect to the subject matter of this work very tight.