A Prologue to the Past and Present State of Things
Operation Atropos: Coco Fusco
009_00 / 2 July 2015
Coco Fusco, Operation Atropos, 2006. Video, 59 min.
Courtesy of the artist and Video Data Bank, www.vdb.org
Video, 59 mins.
Operation Atropos is a documentary about military interrogation and Prisoner of War resistance training. Fusco and a group of women enrolled in a Prisoner of War resistance-training course offered by U.S. Army interrogators, in which they were subjected immersive simulations of POW experiences. Modeled on actual training given to elite forces of the US military, the course was designed to prepare soldier for hostile interrogations so they can resist them. The tactics used violate international conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war, are ones that have come under scrutiny in the aftermath of the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib.
The course was offered by Team Delta and was designed to introduce civilians to the extreme conditions of war. The documentary includes interviews with the interrogators that shed light on how they read personalities, evaluate an interrogatee's reliability, and use the imposition of physical and mental stress strategically. More fundamentally, however, the film shows how interrogators rationalize what they do and how they imagine both themselves and their enemies.
Coco Fusco (b.1960, New York, lives and works in New York), is an interdisciplinary artist and writer and MIT's MLK Visiting Scholar for 2014–15. She has performed, lectured, exhibited, and curated around the world since 1988. Her work explores the politics of gender, race, war, and identity.
Fusco's performances and videos have been presented in two Whitney Biennials (2008 and 1993), BAM's Next Wave Festival, the Sydney Biennale, The Johannesburg Biennial, The Kwangju Biennale, The Shanghai Biennale, InSite O5, Mercosul, Transmediale, The London International Theatre Festival, VideoBrasil and Performa05.
She is represented by Alexander Gray Associates in New York.
Banner image: Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou Rahme, detail of The Zone, 2011, video installation, East Jerusalem, The Jerusalem Show 2011. Photograph by Issa Freij. Courtesy of Al-Ma'mal Foundation, Jerusalem.