I should actually be working on other things but I feel compelled to post, thanks to my lovely art history class.
Today we watched The Couple in the Cage, a video documentation of a collaborative performance involving Guillermo Gomez- Pena and Coco Fusco. It was an obvious satire in which Guillermo and Coco traveled around the globe, decked out in faux Amerindian costumes and posed as "savages" locked up in a cage.The cage was set up in the main lobby of various art and natural history museums, allowing the visitors to interact with the performers. If you payed fifty cents, Guillermo and Coco performed faux tribal traditions. Coco would do a "warrior dance" to a hip hop song while Guillermo told a story about his homeland in a made up tongue while holding a rubber snake. If you went up to their cage and enunciated the word, "P-H-O-T-O", they would even pose so you could take a picture with them.
The performance was very effective in that it had a very sophisticated way of being satirical and that was primarily due to the passive attitudes of the performers...which I totally commended because if someone tried to feed me a banana through a cage, I'd probably spit on them.
The video documentation was interspersed with images of native people being shipped off to Europe and America to be showcased in the circus like freaks. At first, I was irritated with the very didactic comparison but there was a moment when I kind of lost it and got a little emotional. What REALLY effected me was that there were still some people who didn't seem to understand that it was a social commentary. I distinctly remember a sailor from Chicago asking, "Who shaved her legs for her?".
(A small excerpt from the video)