St. Olaf College | News

Flaten Art Museum hosts Coco Fusco exhibit

St. Olaf College’s Flaten Art Museum is proud to present Swimming on Dry Land/Nadar en seco, an exhibit that features video and installation work by interdisciplinary artist and writer Coco Fusco.

The exhibit runs through December 18, with an opening reception September 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. 

As part of the St. Olaf Artist Series, Fusco will present a lecture on campus October 29 titled Haunted by History/Embrujado por la historia. Her talk, which will begin at 7 p.m. in Boe Memorial Chapel, is free and open to the public. A reception with Fusco will follow in Flaten Art Museum.

Still from “Vivir en junio con la lengua afuera” (“To Live in June with Your Tongue Hanging Out”), 2018, Coco Fusco, Single channel video, color, 25 min.

“Each year the St. Olaf Artist Series committee invites one very distinguished guest to campus to enrich campus conversations within and beyond the fine arts. This year we are thrilled to host Cuban-American interdisciplinary artist and writer Coco Fusco,” says Flaten Art Museum Director Jane Becker Nelson ’04. “Throughout the fall, visitors can experience her recent video and installation work at the Flaten Art Museum. As Coco grapples with Cuba’s impact on her own political vision, she questions the country’s mythological place in collective global consciousness. The sheer depth of her practice as an artist and writer over the past three decades has much to offer students coming of age today.”

Portrait of Coco Fusco by Ross Collab, Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York

Over the course of her career, Fusco has remained committed to issues related to the production of knowledge, gender, race, and power. Building on those themes, Swimming on Dry Land/Nadar en seco explores the intersections of historicity, memory, absence, and the challenge that poetic license and critical vision represent for the Cuban revolution. The exhibition’s title alludes to a verse by the Cuban poet Virgilio Piñera, quoted in Fusco’s piece Y entonces el mar te habla (And the Sea Will Talk To You) (2012).

The works on view in Flaten Art Museum invite visitors to consider how absence and invisibility can be forms of somatic and psychic violence and, alternatively, how images and visibility are forms of power. Fusco weaves together archival materials and footage of Havana in the postcommunist era together with poetic reflections that invoke forbidden subjects. For Fusco, the act of making visible that which has been rendered invisible or obsolete by those in power is a political act.

Of her work, Fusco notes, “Visitors to Cuba invariably arrive because they are obsessed with its past. For Cubans, however, there is an ongoing struggle, both to shape a vision of a postrevolutionary future and to address suppressed events from the past and present. My work is part of that effort.”

This exhibition is organized by Jane Becker Nelson with Christina Wiles and Christopher Tradowsky, with generous support from the Glen and Shirley Beito Gronlund Exhibition Fund and the St. Olaf Artist Series.