There are about 138 languages spoken in Queens, New York, according to About.com. English, Spanish, then Chinese being third most popular. How many of those who speak in a foreign tongue legal? The touchy subject, illegal immigrants, where a lot of debate fuels the American political arena. One artist is taking a different approach.
Tania Bruguera, Cuban performing artist, started the idea for the Immigrant Movement International. Through grants Bruguera will be living the illegal lifestyle in a home with other illegal immigrants.
The Mission Statement from Immigrant Movement International:
“Its mission is to help define the immigrant as a unique, new global citizen in a post-national world and to test the concept of arte útil or “useful art”, in which artists actively implement the merger of art into society’s urgent social, political and scientific issues.”
This will be documented and put on display at the Queens Museum of Art, who is also partners with Bruguera on the project.
Mixed reviews so far as to whether this kind of art really can help or just exploit.
In an online debate that broke out on Twitter posted below. You can see more of the content by clicking on their account links.
3.Bruguera will grace pages of Vogue (just like Allora $ Calzadilla) while immigrants remain beautiful "noble savages" in art theory texts.
@hollo no, no Salem...that how the art world views them...I'm calling Bruguera abusive.
@JonesDistrict ...rather than ask Creative Time for their opinion of what Tania is doing. I'm not sure how Tania is abusing the participants
From Tumblr's Public Versus Art:
Hey, Artist! Queens is not your playground to pretend to be poor! This “performance” could be seen as a new form of exoticism. The artist seems to be saying, “Hey Art World, look at me, I am living in Queens—how daring! There are immigrants here—real discrimination—real poor people!” But who is for real? Is the artist drawing attention to issues facing immigrants, and/or just bringing attention to herself by exploiting the “real”-ness of her new neighbors?
Sent from the Twitter account of Tania Bruguera:
An artist working politically needs to understand and work with the urgency of politics not with its archiving
In order for this project to work and be effective, the IMI team needs to document and implement social media awareness. The truth is that no legal will ever know what it is like to be an illegal. I think the biggest story that needs to be told is why a person so desperate would consider becoming an invisible for the rest of their life. The life changing decision is more important rather than focus of legality. If the project were to take place multi-country, then show the process of becoming illegal, than that would be a brilliant piece. Once you can get to the route of why, then you can start to work on the problem. No one really knows, and maybe even Bruguera doesn't know yet, of how this entire year will shape out. Will she get caught on purpose or will she just work a mediocre job?