- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

HAVANA (AP) - The organizers of a Cuban art show on Wednesday condemned government critics who used an open microphone at an art performance to call for free speech on the communist-run island.

The organizing committee for the Havana Biennial, a state-sponsored showcase for artists from developing countries, issued a statement calling the protesters “people far removed from culture” who took advantage of a performance “to undertake a provocation against the Cuban Revolution.”

The installation featured a curtained podium and microphone, which Cuban artist Tania Bruguera offered to audience members for a minute each on Sunday. As they spoke, a pair of actors dressed as Interior Ministry officials approached them and put a white dove on their shoulders.

Several people, including well-known blogger Yoani Sanchez, grabbed the microphone to criticize the government and demand free speech.

“My work is a participatory work, I only extended the invitation,” Bruguera told The Associated Press.

She said she respected the organizers’ point of view, but had no regrets.

“I’m an artist and I explore the connection between the public and art,” she said.

The biennial drew hundreds of artists from 50 countries, including the United States.

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