Coco Fusco speaks her new solo exhibit at The Ringling


In “Greenfield Prize-winner Coco Fusco speaks her mind in new solo exhibit at The Ringling,” Marty Fugate says, “Fusco’s ‘Twilight’ features work commissioned by the Greenfield Prize and other pieces that speak to her feelings about Cuba.” Here are excerpts from the Herald Tribune.

The Ringling’s latest exhibit explores the work of Coco Fusco. This Cuban-American artist has a broken-hearted love affair with the island nation, and all its contradictions, possibilities and broken promises. Fusco’s unrequited love is a family legacy.

Fusco was born in 1960 in New York City. Her mother had fled the Cuban revolution a year before. As a child, Fusco grew up imagining the lost world her mother had left behind. “For me, Cuba was physically absent but present in every other way,” she says. “The island became very real to me through language, jokes, music, food, family, habits and heated political arguments at the dinner table.”

As a child, Fusco’s homeland was a kingdom in her mind’s eye. Her identity was constantly in flux — a “self” that she constantly invented and reinvented. Like it or not, she learned to think like an artist. And that’s exactly what she became when she grew up.

Today, Fusco is an internationally recognized creator who colors outside the lines of art forms, genres, mediums and ideologies. Her multimedia art blurs the boundaries of gender, race, and national identity. Fusco questions the dividing line between artist and audience as well. Her multi-media productions incorporate large-scale projections, closed-circuit TV, and streaming live video. It’s interactive, and that’s an understatement. Fusco’s art draws you in whether you like it or not. You can love it or hate it, but you can’t remain neutral.

The Hermitage Artist Retreat didn’t. It awarded Fusco the 2016 Greenfield Prize, which includes a residency at the beachfront artist retreat on Manasota Key and a $30,000 commission for the creation of original art. The artist would go on to create two bold, new works with her commission. The Greenfield Prize rotates annually among composers, playwrights and visual artists, and winners are given two years to complete their work, which is usually presented on the weekend of the announcement of the new prize winner in the spring. Fusco was given extra time to finish her projects. Previous visual arts recipients include Sanford Biggers and Trenton Doyle Hancock.

You can see Fusco’s edgy creations in The Ringling’s latest solo exhibition, curated by Chris Jones. Her satiric sculpture will gleam on the museum’s grounds. Four of Fusco’s recent videos will also be shown continuously in the Monda Gallery for Contemporary Art. She created these pieces during the “twilight” of the Cuban Revolutionary state — a volatile transition from Fidel Castro’s legacy to an uncertain future. Fusco’s videos explore the role of Cuba’s intellectuals and artists — with a special focus on the poets who dared raised their voices in dissent. [. . . ]

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