Webinar: “Picturing Displacement: Tania Bruguera and Fazal Sheikh in Conversation”

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Tania Bruguera and Fazal Sheikh, two renowned artists for their work featuring displaced and marginalized communities, gave a virtual talk on “Picturing Displacement” on November October 27, 2022 as part of the seminar series “Understanding and Including Forced Migrants and Refugees: Responses from the Humanities” sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Global Engagement, Georgetown Humanities Initiative, and the IMS at Georgetown University.

The recording of the talk is now available here.

Tania Bruguera

Tania Bruguera is a politically-motivated performance artist whose work has been featured in exhibitions and museums around the world, including in the Museum of Modern Art, Tate Modern, Bronx Museum of the Arts, and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana. Born in Havana, Cuba, she experienced and was inspired by the hardships that followed the failed Cuban Revolution in the 1950s; her work is rooted in an examination of the social, cultural, and economic experience of being Cuban. Bruguera exists in and champions the modern performative art landscape, all while defying established forms of artistic expression and integrating her work into our social reality. By incorporating participatory elements into her performances, Bruguera encourages her audiences to question understandings of feelings and perceived realities, especially those of power, oppression, and submission. Bruguera’s powerful and provoking art, coupled with her commitment to political activism, led Cuban authorities to arrest and jail her on multiple occasions. Along with her challenging work, Bruguera has established several arts education and community outreach programs, including the Behavior Art School in Havana, which provides a space and resources for the study of alternative arts. Bruguera received her BFA from Escuela de Arte San Alejandro in Havana, and MFAs in painting and in performance from Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, respectively. Bruguera has been awarded many prizes, including the Guggenheim Foundation fellowship and the 2021 Velazquez Prize by the Spanish Ministry of Culture, an award that recognizes the totality of an Ibero-American artist’s work in the field of plastic arts.

Tania Bruguera’s website: www.taniabruguera.com (new window)

Fazal Sheikh

Fazal Sheikh is a photographer whose portraits reflect individual experiences among displaced and marginalized communities. Born in New York City to an American mother and a Kenyan father, Sheikh spent his summer with his father’s family in Nairobi, where he learned Swahili and immersed himself in Kenyan culture. Following his 1987 graduation from Princeton University, Sheikh received a Fulbright Fellowship in 1992 and spent time in Sudanese refugee camps in Kenya. Throughout the early 1990s, Sheikh worked in refugee camps in Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania to capture photographs of displaced people, culminating in his first book A Sense of Common Ground. Sheik’s portraits focus on individuals to give a name and a face to a few of the millions of refugees and displaced people worldwide. Following his work in East Africa, Sheikh has worked in Afghan villages, Latin America, India, and Israel/Palestine documenting various experiences with migration and displacement. Throughout his career, Sheikh has published numerous photography books and has been awarded various accolades, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1994), a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” Fellowship (2005), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2012). Sheikh worked as a visiting professor at Princeton between 2018 and 2019 as a Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Visiting Professor in the Environment and the Humanities and Visiting Professor in the Lewis Center for the Arts and the Princeton Environmental Institute. During his time at Princeton, he worked with other artists, scientists, and engineers on the Exposure project, which focuses on environmental justice issues in the ancestral lands of several Indigenous communities in the American Southwest, particularly in Utah. His most recent work, The Moon Is Behind Us, was published in collaboration with Terry Tempest Williams, an American writer with whom Sheikh collaborated on the Exposure project.

Fazal Sheikh’s website: www.fazalsheikh.org