Performance artist Tania Bruguera, who had her passport confiscated in Cuba after trying to stage a performance about freedom of expression in a public plaza in Havana, is back in the U.S., according to a statement issued by #YoTambienExijo, the art and activism program run by Bruguera and her sister Deborah.
The artist, an internationally known Cuban national who spends long spells working and teaching abroad, landed in New York City Friday to participate in the 2015 Yale World Fellows program, a leadership summit organized by Yale University. According to the statement, she was picked up by representatives from Yale at the airport.
Bruguera did not announce her departure from Cuba in advance. She advised the members of #YoTambienExijo of her plans only after the flight was in air, using onboard Wi-Fi.
Her return caps a fraught eight months with Bruguera held in virtual detention in Cuba — all during a dramatic moment in which the U.S. and Cuba have been engaged in a historic diplomatic thaw.
The artist was first detained just prior to the new year after trying to stage a work titled "Tatlin's Whisper #6" in Havana's iconic Revolution Square. The piece consists of a lectern and an open microphone where members of the public are invited to speak freely for one minute.
Upon her detention, she had her passport revoked so that she was unable to leave Cuba. During her time there, she was detained by state security forces on multiple occasions, most recently during the Havana Biennial, the glitzy international art exhibition held in May. Throughout her detention, there was the possibility that Bruguera might be formally charged with disturbing the public order.
In recent weeks, however, it became apparent that the Cuban government was not going to charge her. In mid-July, authorities returned Bruguera's passport to her.
Before departing, the artist was trying to get some sort of written guarantee that she would be able to return to the island country. It is not clear whether she was able to secure such a document.
Neither Bruguera, nor a representative for the Yale World Fellows, could be reached for comment.