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Coco Fusco

Rights of Passage

October 11, 1997

Rights of Passage, performance, The Johannesburg Biennale, Johannesburg, South Africa (1997)

Rights of Passage, performance, The Johannesburg Biennale, Johannesburg, South Africa (1997)

Rights of Passage, performance, The Johannesburg Biennale, Johannesburg, South Africa (1997)

Rights of Passage, performance, The Johannesburg Biennale, Johannesburg, South Africa (1997)

Rights of Passage, performance, The Johannesburg Biennale, Johannesburg, South Africa (1997)

Rights of Passage, performance, The Johannesburg Biennale, Johannesburg, South Africa (1997)

Description

Rights of Passage
October 11, 1997
The Johannesburg Biennale
Johannesburg, South Africa 

Coco Fusco's Rights of Passage, is a site-specific performance about race, space, and power in the post-apartheid era. Fusco suggests South Africa’s “past” is currently managed via romantic commodification, and that "this packaging of Blackness, whether it be constructed as a precolonial African identity for tourists, a folkloric preservation of non-hybridized tradition, or a sanitized version of township life, is one of the many socio-cultural mechanisms of repression that characterize con temporary post-apartheid culture."

The Rights of Passage passbooks serve as evidence of payment for entry to the Biennale, an artist’s “multiple”, and a document of the performance. The “passbook” is a souvenir, a reminder of a critical moment in history of demarcation of space in South Africa, of our ambivalent attraction to and repulsion from that past, and of its immanent commodification.

Ultimately, the piece is a comment on contemporary cultural tourism, and the new status of “peripherally” situated biennials as marketplaces for all sort of exotica. Even the most horrifying historical circumstances can function as a point of attraction, and ultimately, a lure for global capital investment.