The Trauma of Political Engagement: Lynn Hershman Leesons Tania Libre
Film Review
May 22, 2017
Art in America
Vanessa Thill

What happens when a performance artist struggling against state censorship goes to therapy? In her new film Tania Libre, Lynn Hershman Leeson lets us eavesdrop on Tania Bruguera’s session with Dr. Frank Ochberg, a leading psychiatrist and PTSD expert. Their conversation is slow in tempo as it unfolds over the hour-long film, but it raises provocative questions about abusive familial structures and the ways that traumatic experiences of betrayal can play out on a larger political scale. Static camera angles of Bruguera and Ochberg relaxing on easy chairs have a drowsy visual impact as their discussion rambles between anecdotes and responses. But Bruguera’s stories are highly useful for interpreting her work, and although the mood of Tania Libre is sedate, its ideas are keen.