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MOCA Artist Film Series: Coco Fusco

Still from La noche eterna. Image courtesy of the artist.

MOCA Artist Film Series: Coco Fusco
La Noche Eterna (The Eternal Night), 2023, 70 min.


The MOCA Artist Film Series, presented by The Edward F. Limato Foundation, is an active and dynamic platform for the presentation of artist films. Inspired by film and video works in MOCA’s renowned collection, these programs explore the critical issues of our time and place and focus on experiments in long-form, narrative, and feature-length films. With ongoing presentations in the Ahmanson Auditorium, all screenings feature artists in dialogue with fellow artists, historians, and critics.

In the story told by La Noche Eterna, a poet and a young Evangelical man from the countryside, who have both recently arrived at the prison, meet an older actor who had been imprisoned after he was accused of trying to assassinate Fidel Castro. The actor ushers them into the social world of the prisoners, showing them how to resist the authorities’ attempt to re-educate them. To enliven the prisoners’ evenings, he convinces the warden that screening films would be a more effective means of teaching inmates about the benefits of socialism and creates a cinema inside the prison.

La Noche Eterna is based on the true story of Cuban writer and former political prisoner Néstor Díaz de Villegas. In 1974, Díaz de Villegas was sentenced to six years in prison at the age of 18 for writing a poem. Prior to his imprisonment he had already been subjected to censure several times for his nonconformist attitudes, which were deemed by the revolutionary government to be “ideologically divergent.” “Ideological diversionism,” a term introduced by Raúl Castro in the early 1970s, functioned as a legal and moral category that criminalized dissent. It was applied to Cuban citizens considered to be too intellectual, to youths who showed interest in American popular culture and music, to those presumed to be gay or lesbian, and to religious people whose faith prevented them from performing political obedience.

Fusco will be present for a post-screening conversation with novelist, art critic, and scholar Pablo Baler, Professor of Latin-American Literature, Visual Arts, and Creative Writing at California State University, Los Angeles

Coco Fusco (b. 1960, New York) lives and works in New York. Fusco was the feature of the retrospective Tomorrow, I Will Become an Island (2023) at the KW Institute of Contemporary Art in Berlin, which will travel to the MACBA, Barcelona in 2025. The artist’s performances and videos have been presented at the 56th Venice Biennale, three Whitney Biennials (2022, 2008, and 1993), and several other international exhibitions. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The Walker Art Center, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Whitney Museum, the Centre Pompidou, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona. She is a recipient of a 2021 American Academy of Arts and Letters Art Award, a 2021 Latinx Artist Fellowship, a 2021 Anonymous Was a Woman award, a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2013 Absolut Art Writing Award, and a 2003 Herp Albert Award, among others. Fusco is a Professor at the Cooper Union School of Art and author of Dangerous Moves: Performance and Politics in Cuba (2015); English is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas (1995); The Bodies that Were Not Ours and Other Writings (2001); and A Field Guide for Female Interrogators (2008). She is editor of Corpus Delecti: Performance Art of the Americas (1999); and Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self (2003). She is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books and numerous art publications.

Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pablo Baler is a novelist, theorist, and art critic as well as professor of Latin American Literature at California State University, Los Angeles. His research interests focus on the intersection of Visual Arts, Literature, and Philosophy. Among other books, he is the author of the novels Circa (1999), Chabrancán (2020), and El lejano desoriente (2022), as well as the essay Latin-American Neo-Baroque: Senses of Distortion (2016). Baler is also the editor of the anthology The Next Thing: Art in the Twenty-First Century (2013).

MOCA Artist Film Series is organized by José Luis Blondet, Senior Curator with Alitzah Oros, Public Programming Associate, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

MOCA Artist Film Series is presented by The Edward F. Limato Foundation.