Exhibitions: Global Feminisms

Tania Bruguera: Statistic

Tania Bruguera (Cuban, b. 1968). Statistic (Estadistica), 1996. Textile, human hair of anonymous Cubans, thread, and fabric. Private collection, New York

From the Memoria de la postguerra series, Estadistica was fabricated from human hair collected from residents of Cuba. During a five-month collaborative project, Bruguera worked with artists and citizens from all over the island who contributed their hair and assisted in the rolling or sewing of the work. After being rolled into cloth strips, the hair was then attached to the work's support structure. The textile is suggestive of the Cuban flag in its design and recalls the mourning flags flown outside homes on the island. Its technique of fabrication recalls the role of women during the Cuban war of independence (1868–78), when they sewed what was at the time a flag of liberation.

At the same time, Estadistica also represents Bruguera's exploration of the mass exodus of Cubans to the United States in the 1980s. Of this she says: "What we were left with looked like a landscape of trenches devastated by war, in which many of us who remained were exhausted, beaten, or disillusioned and changed our outlook or picked ourselves up in a more personal, private way." According to Bruguera, each clump of hair in the work symbolizes an individual's state of being and contains a portion of their willpower and internal energy. In this manner, Estadistica stands as a powerful symbol of nationalism woven out of the collective daily existence of ordinary people.