Complementary technical description

performers - Adelita A. Almeida Ahmad, Adriana Barreto, Aline Gambin, Aline Midori, Bruna Mansani, Bruno Pimenta, Camila Rodrigues, Carolina Hamanaka, Carolina Mendonça, Christiana de Moraes, Claudia Aparecida, Daniela Castro, Daniela Figueiredo, Daniella Soares, Denise Santos, Diana Parisi, Evandro Vaz, Fernanda Dantas, Germana Pereira, Gisele Cristine Ferreira, Gustavo Veiga, Ivonete Cavalcante, Leandro de Oliva, Luana Onha, Lucas Rached Pereira, Maíra Ferreira, Maíra Gabrielli Martins, Maíra Vaz Valente, Marco Aurélio Barreto, Maria Alejandra Guerrero, Mariana Chaves, Marilia Del Vecchio Gessullo, Mayra Tenório Azzi, Paula Barros, Rodrigo Faria dos Santos, Tainá Azeredo, Tetê Farkas, Thainah Aquino, Valentina Fernandes, Yasmim Salim

Presentation text 2005

Bare LIife Study #1 – Coco Fusco

No fields, no deserts or beaches of hard landing. In the era of “intelligent bombs”, hand-to-hand combat has left the sphere of the war theatres historically delimited by warring powers. It is in the recesses of cells and military bases that political prisoners are confronted, cruelly, with their opponents’ true face. In this territory, the artist, writer and curator Coco Fusco (New York, 1960) sets up her performance.With a few dozen volunteers, she enacts one of the most frequent tortures imposed by American soldiers on prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo: they make the inmates clean their cells with toothbrushes. Fusco uses a public space in São Paulo and mobilizes her small army to bring to light what takes place daily in the authorized darkness of military prisons.

“With Bare Life Study #1, I want to provoke reflection not only on the implications of this state of exception that has befallen contemporary life, but also on the role of witness played by public opinion worldwide,” says the artist, known for her performances, interventions, installations and videos conciliating political sharpness with fresh and instigating aesthetics. Military rituals – in addition to the role women play in them – have recently become object of her attention. In July, as part of the research for her new piece, she visited a group of retired American military who offer training to those wishing to specialize in conducting interrogations.

Fusco states that the interest that originally moves her work is “to investigate the complex psycho-social dynamics found in the contact between people from different cultures and how it affects the building of personality and ideas on cultural diversity.” To make the point clear, she unapologetically resorts to a combination of unusual languages, such as surveillance circuits, Latin soap operas and fake documentaries. In order to approach the issue of cultural estrangement, she always chooses the less facile angles. In the video ElsSegadors, described by The New York Times as “both subtle and entertaining”, she takes an excluded culture, that of the Catalans, to deal with the principle of exclusion that rules every culture, even the Catalan culture itself. The Couple in the Cage is a performance in which she incorporates a Central American aboriginal and locks herself up in a cage in order to observe the reactions of passers-by, attesting to her rare sense of humour.

The poetics of Cuban cultural identity and the experiences of immigration and Diaspora have been favored subjects for the artist,who now concentrates on the “effects of globalization and the notions of belonging to or identifying with a culture.” Bare Life Study #1, she hopes, will be a tribute to an old connection. Daughter of a Cuban mother and Italian father, Coco Fusco defines herself as a Brazilianophile. “I have loved Brazil for 20 years, since when I went to Havana Film Festival and the Brazilian contingent was always the most vibrant. I have great spiritual identification with many Brazilians, such as Glauber Rocha, Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, Cildo Meireles, Caetano Veloso and Naná Vasconcelos”. “I know that, in Brazil, there is a long path of politicized conceptual art and that artists take their interventions to the streets, and I think it is very appropriate to create something that somehow pays tribute to these traditions.”

ASSOCIAÇÃO CULTURAL VIDEOBRASIL. "15th Videobrasil International Electronic Art Festival - 'Performance.'": 6th to 25th September 2005, pp. 108 and 109, São Paulo, Brazil, 2005.