The Eternal Night
Coco Fusco

The Eternal Night, a feature-length artist film by Coco Fusco, tells the story of three Cuban young men that were condemned for their beliefs and their creations. It is about the power of the imagination to transcend circumstance.

The film 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 for writing a poem. He was eighteen years old and had already been branded as a political nonconformist. At the time, those Cubans who were considered too intellectual, too enamoured of American popular culture, too effeminate or too attached to their religious faith were marginalised and subject to incarceration and reeducation.

The film begins when the poet arrives at the prison and meets a young Evangelical man from the countryside and an older actor who was accused of trying to assassinate Fidel Castro. The actor ushers them into the social world of the prison. 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.

Coco Fusco combines a dramatised version of Díaz de Villegas’ prison experience with archival footage and print culture from the 1970s, as well as interviews with Díaz de Villegas and his friend, the actor and former political prisoner José Manuel Castiñeyra.

The Eternal Night will premiere at the Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present from 7 February to 11 June 2023.

Luis Manuel Álvarez
Enmanuel Galbán
Joel Lara

Director   Coco Fusco
Producers   Coco Fusco and David Leitner
Director of Photography   David Leitner
Screenplay   Enrique Del Risco
Editor   Jessie Stead
Sound Design   Roberto Fernandez and Harbor Sound
Music   Roberto Poveda, Lars Haake and Layton Weedeman
Animation   Melissa Brown and Brian Luna
Colour   David Leitner
Subtitles   María Cruz Alarcón

Based on testimony by   Néstor Díaz de Villegas

Commissioned by   Sharjah Art Foundation
Co-Commissioned by   The Wapping Project
Additional Support   Latinx Artist Fellowship and Anonymous Was a Woman

Coco Fusco is an interdisciplinary artist and writer. She is a recipient of a 2021 American Academy of Arts and Letters Arts Award, a 2021 Latinx Artist Fellowship, a 2018 Rabkin Prize for Art Criticism, a 2016 Greenfield Prize, a 2014 Cintas Fellowship, a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2013 Absolut Art Writing Award, a 2013 Fulbright Fellowship, a 2012 US Artists Fellowship and a 2003 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. Fusco’s performances and videos have been presented in the 56th Venice Biennale, Frieze Special Projects, Basel Unlimited, 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 Art Institute of Chicago, The Whitney Museum, The Walker Art Center, the Centre Pompidou, the Imperial War Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona. She is represented by Alexander Gray Associates in New York.

Fusco is a Professor of Art at Cooper Union. Fusco is the author of Dangerous Moves: Performance and Politics in Cuba (2015). She is also the author of 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 the editor of Corpus Delecti: Performance Art of the Americas (1999) and Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self (2003). She contributes regularly to The New York Review of Books and numerous art publications. Fusco received her BA in Semiotics from Brown University (1982), her MA in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University (1985) and her PhD in Art and Visual Culture from Middlesex University (2007).