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February 8, 2001 Coco Fusco: Playful to make a point



by Sigalit Hoffman

In a packed auditorium at the Museum of Fine Arts, Coco Fusco, well-known performance artist and associate professor at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, gave the audience a choice of presentations: an audio-visual history of her work or a preview of her play The Incredible Disappearing Woman.

The guest lecturer for Concordia’s Studio Arts Visiting Artists program complied with the audience’s almost unanimous decision to hear the play.

Although the play was about an artist who went to Mexico to defile a corpse as a performance art project, Fusco focused on the project’s victim.

“The only way I could reconstruct this situation was [to assume] that she was not really dead,” Fusco explained. She dedicated her play to the 220 women who disappeared from Juares, Mexico, between 1993-1999.

Women comprise 70 per cent of the factory work force in Mexico. They are subject to frequent sexual harassment, and often work far from their families. Fusco said that Tijuana has the highest rate of disappearance in Mexico, and a factory worker would be an easy target.

She excavated the colonial Latin America tradition of political satire, saying, “If you can’t criticize the king, you make fun of him.”

However, Liam Capman, a first-year Communication Studies student, had mixed feelings. “It was a bit too lighthearted,” he said.

Film director Carla Gutman said, “I thought the piece was bleak, too bleak, and the male perspective is completely missing. For someone who cares about the status of women, I felt that there was a certain amount of divisiveness bred by presenting men as oppressors and women as victims.”