Monmouth University Center for the Arts will present a performance by award-winning Cuban-American artist and author Coco Fusco on November 18 in Pollak Theatre at 4:30 p.m. In her performance titled “Observations of Predation in Humans” Coco Fusco portrays Dr. Zira, the female chimpanzee and animal psychologist from the 1968 film Planet of the Apes. The lecture is presented as part of the ART NOW visiting artist series that supports emerging art forms.
“Observations of Predation in Humans” debuted in 2013 at the Studio Museum in Harlem. In the lecture/performance Dr. Zira draws on the cutting edge research in the fields of neuroscience, primatology and evolutionary biology to interpret the predatory activities of human beings in postindustrial societies around the world.
In an interview in BOMB Magazine Fusco explains, “I became interested in Zira’s character; she is an animal psychologist who studies the human brain, a pacifist intellectual who constantly points to problematic aspects of human behavior. In the original films the focus on the critique of humans is on their aggressive tendencies — their capacity to kill each other, their use of weapons of mass destruction, etc. I started to think about how I might revive her and have her explore other dimensions of human behavior.”
Monmouth University professor and ART NOW committee member Deanna Shoemaker noted that she “wanted to bring Coco Fusco to campus because her work has been hugely important in the fields of performance and cultural studies. In my classes, I regularly screen The Couple in The Cage, a documentary about Fusco’s and Guillermo Gomez-Pena’s radical performance experiment where they toured themselves worldwide as newly “discovered” indigenous people in a cage. This biting satire was as a way to explore the weight of deeply racist stereotypes and allow the “Others” in the cage to reverse the direction of the gaze and put their audiences on display.”
Coco Fusco is an interdisciplinary artist and writer and MIT’s MLK Visiting Scholar for 2014-2015. Her work explores the relationship between women and society, war, politics, and race. It combines electronic media and performance in a variety of formats, from staged multi-media performances incorporating large scale projections and closed circuit television to live performances streamed to the internet that invite audiences to chart the course of action through chat interaction.
She is a recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2013 Fulbright Fellowship, and a 2012 US Artists Fellowship among other prestigious awards, and her performances and videos have been presented in two Whitney Biennials, BAM’s Next Wave Festival, as well as numerous international Biennials and festivals. Her works have appeared at the Tate Liverpool, The Museum of Modern Art, The Walker Art Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona. Fusco has a new book coming out on November 17 called, “Dangerous Moves: Politics and Performance in Cuba.”
The ART NOW: Performance, Art, & Technology Visiting Artist Series transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries and embraces artistic manifestations in diverse forms and spaces. This series advocates and provides support for provocative work that transforms, challenges, and re-imagines what we know and what we think we know. Our aim as artists and scholars at Monmouth is to foster experiential conversations with interdisciplinary artists working to engage the public in new ways.
For information about this series, contact Prof. Deanna Shoemaker, ART NOW committee member at 732-263-5194 or visit online at www.monmouth.edu/arts.