Tactical Media Workshop. Hannah Arendt Institute. Havana, Cuba, 2017. With Tania Brugera, Claire Penetcost, and Brian Holmes.
This was the first time a CAE workshop opened with a reading of the law we were potentially breaking by doing this event along with the prison term (15 years). The legal line regarding cultural production was subjective to say the least, so the atmosphere was a strange mix of concern and determination. Those who attended were the most courageous set of artists CAE has ever worked with. A few days into the discussions, lectures, and brainstorming, Claire burst out with what became the slogan of the workshop—We can trust each other. A very serious statement to make in a country with a government that is very intolerant of diverse political/artistic opinion, and that uses personal paranoia as a mechanism of control. To put such a statement on t-shirts and stickers may seem like a small piece of cultural resistance, but within this context, it was as big a step as anyone would want to take. One of our workshop participants was arrested on a bogus charge (buying paint without a license), and all of CAE, Brian, and Claire were questioned by police. Our host, Tania Brugera, has had numerous problems with the state and has served time for the kind cultural hardball she is playing against state oppression.