a/k/a Mrs. George Gilbert
a/k/a Mrs. George Gilbert
a/k/a Mrs. George Gilbert
Video Details
Coco Fusco | 2004 | 31:00 |United States | English | B&W | 4:3

A unique look into the FBI's search for Angela Davis, combining found footage, archival texts, and voice-over dialogue. 

Close Details
a/k/a Mrs. George Gilbert
Video Details
Coco Fusco | 2004 | 31:00 |United States | English | B&W | 4:3

A unique look into the FBI's search for Angela Davis, combining found footage, archival texts, and voice-over dialogue. 

Close Details

About this program:

Interdisciplinary artist and writer Coco Fusco’s body of work spans decades as well as media. Throughout her career, Fusco has used video, performance, installation, and critical writing to explore issues of race, personal identity, gender, colonialism, and power. In the video a/k/a Mrs. George Gilbert, Fusco looks at a critical moment in Black radical history through two lenses: the archive, and written narrative. Fusco follows the search for, and trial of Angela Davis through newspaper clippings, articles, found footage, propaganda, and other ephemera, highlighting the police and FBI’s abuse of power. Photos of arrested women mistaken for Davis (or Mrs. George Gilbert, Davis’s undercover name) flash across the screen, while a male voice tells a fictionalized story of his time in the FBI searching for Angela Davis. This blend of documentary and fiction illuminates the relationship between the surveiller and the surveilled, commenting on the factually ambiguous nature of images used in American media.

"Films such as a/k/a Mrs. George Gilbert take the punctum of the still image, and animate it as the unfinished business of history that addresses contemporary Black states of being."

— Amy Abugo Ongiri, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, Duke University Press, Fall 2011

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About Coco Fusco:

Coco Fusco is an interdisciplinary artist and writer. She is a recipient of a 2018 Rabkin Foundation Prize for Arts Writers, a 2014 Cintas Fellowship, a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2013 Absolut Art Writing Award, a 2013 Fulbright Fellowship, a 2012 U.S. Artists Fellowship, and a 2003 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. Fusco's performances and videos have been presented in two Whitney Biennials (2008 and 1993), the 56th Venice Biennale, BAM’s Next Wave Festival, the Sydney Biennale, the Johannesburg Biennial, the Kwangju Biennale, the Shanghai Biennale, InSite 05, Mercosul, Transmediale, the London International Theatre Festival, VideoBrasil and Performa05. Her works have also been shown at Tate Liverpool, the Museum of Modern Art, the Walker Art Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona (MACBA).

Fusco is 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), A Field Guide for Female Interrogators (2008), and Dangerous Moves: Performance and Politics in Cuba (2015). She is also the editor of Corpus Delecti: Performance Art of the Americas (1999) and Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self (2003). 

Fusco's work combines electronic media and performance in a variety of formats, from staged multi-media performances incorporating large scale projections and closed circuit television, to live performances streamed to the internet that invite audiences to chart the course of action through chat interaction. 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).

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a/k/a Mrs. George Gilbert

a/k/a Mrs. George Gilbert extends Coco Fusco’s in-depth examination of racialized imagery. Fusco combines fictional and documentary source materials to reflect on the use of electronic surveillance against Black intellectuals and activists in the 1960s and 1970s as part of covert FBI operations. These actions bear a striking resemblance to contemporary Patriot Act-inspired activities of American law enforcement.

This experimental work follows the story of an FBI agent who confesses his involvement in the nation-wide search for Angela Davis: the Black philosopher who was fired from UCLA in 1969 at the order of then governor Ronald Reagan, and in 1970 was placed on the FBI's “Ten Most Wanted List," after which she went underground. During the two months that Davis was a fugitive, hundreds, if not thousands, of other women were incorrectly identified by law enforcement officials (and many were arrested) as Miss Davis. Her case culminated in one of the most famous trials in recent history, and she was acquitted of all charges in 1972.

Fusco weaves together archival footage, simulated surveillance footage of many Davis “lookalikes”, actual trial transcripts, FBI records and press clips with memorabilia from the international campaign to free Davis, creating an imaginative recreation of a crucial political moment in U.S. history.

Rick Moody, the author of The Ice Storm, collaborated with Fusco on writing the script.