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The Francis Effect

The Francis Effect

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Edited and with a Preface and Introduction by Noah Simblist

Contributions by Tania Bruguera

Essays by Matthew Jesse Jackson, Saskia Sassen, and Nicholas Terpstra

Additional contributions by Lucia Sanroman and Christina Yang

A groundbreaking interdisciplinary discussion of borders, Pangaea, sociology, and religious studies, The Francis Effect offers art as a vehicle for social change, placing this work in the context of its creative and critical reception.

Publication Date: June 21, 2022

Paperback: 9781646051700

eBook: 9781646051717


“The Francis Effect was about proposing something completely absurd, as absurd as borders are. If Immigrant Movement was for the thousands of people who went there, The The Francis Effect was just for one person, the pope. But the more people that participated, the more personal it became.” –Tania Bruguera

Stemming from a performance that originated at the Guggenheim Museum, The Francis Effect explores Tania Bruguera’s work as an artist, activist, and Cuban immigrant to the US, engaging the tension between art’s pragmatic, activist, and aesthetic possibilities.

The performance of The Francis Effect follows the guise of a political campaign, aiming to request that the Pope grant Vatican City citizenship to all immigrants and refugees. As a conversational, collaborative project, the resulting book mirrors Bruguera’s artistic practice with essays and conversations from the the curators and Bruguera. In addition, the book-project is embiggened by socially-engaged commissioned essays from art historian Our Literal Speed, sociologist Saskia Sassen, and historian Nicolas Terpstra.

Biographical Information

Tania Bruguera’s performances question the possibility of political representation while attempting to collapse the distance between art and life, and erode institutionalized injustice. Born in Cuba, she now lives and works in New York and Havana. Bruguera studied at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, then earned an MFA in performance from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the founder and director of Arte de Conducta, the first performance studies program in Latin America, which is hosted by Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana. From 2003 to 2010, she was an assistant professor at the Department of Visual Arts of the University of Chicago. Bruguera’s work has been featured in Documenta 11, Kassel, Germany, and in the Havana, Venice, Johannesburg, São Paulo, and Shanghai biennials. In March 2011, she began a five-year social project, Immigrant Movement International, the first year of which was sponsored by Creative Time and the Queens Museum of Art. The Corona, Queens-based project functions as a think tank for immigrant issues, offering free artistic, educational, and consciousness-raising activities to a community of immigrants. Bruguera is a proponent of arte útil, a “useful art” designed to address social and political problems.

Noah Simblist works as a curator, writer, and artist with a focus on art and politics, specifically the ways in which contemporary artists address history. He has contributed to Art in America, Modern Painters, Terremoto and other publications. His most recent project is Commonwealth, a multi-year project exploring the notion of the commons at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Partnership with the Philadelphia Contemporary and Beta Local in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is also Chair of Painting + Printmaking and Associate Professor of Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.