David: Art comes in different forms, obviously, but the revolutionary art we’ve seen is very body-based and representational. But then there is also revolutionary abstraction, which doesn’t have the same function. In any case, Mia, you did some performances, Body and Tide. I was interested in the politics of the body, which is obviously related to your injury. Our relationship to the world is always through the body—that’s how we’re plugged into the world. Those two performances were very interesting from this point of view.
MIA:Those pieces come from a time in my life where I created myself as a myth and a being without an identity. A myth is a powerful construct because it controls the perception of reality. I sculpted myself as a living myth, using my body as if it was a doll in a dream. Having experienced what seemed like an endless amount of time transcending my body, which comes with suffering and fasting, I exited the surrounding myths around me and then played with these illusions when I came back to the social world. And so at this time I created many myths and short videos from sculpted body actions. Body and Tide were reactions to a personal transformation that ultimately connects to the universal.
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Thesis Graduate Show
Body is a work that speaks on many levels but it is basically about interdependence and the experience of losing control of one’s body and one’s means of caring for oneself. In this piece I was passed from one person to another—Caleb and his brother—up a mountain. What is in play is a progressive shift from notions of independence to that of interdependence. In this piece the performers create a sort of autonomous system, an organism where the bodies become united. In order to get up a hill, we progressively formed a distinct, organic pattern of movements. Through this kind of interdependence, it’s possible to eliminate the disabilities we create for ourselves. More specifically, what you see is a woman in a vulnerable position, unable to control her half-covered body. She is forcefully passed from man to man. However, the piece brings an aspect of human contact to the next level. Beyond the normalized objectification of women, we see a vulnerable being who is unit- ing with her companions in order to go up a hill. This dramatic shift of perspective confronts us with our humanity, and for women with the patriarchal view that woman is an object rather than a living being.
David: It’s related to the social body and injustice—it’s like a metaphor for the relationships that are possible between people and for strategies of political action. And the other piece?
MIA: Tide was also created in Death Valley, California. On the right of the dual-screen video, you see Caleb and his brother, unsuccessfully attempting to elevate a structure in the air with a thirty-foot pole. It’s man’s attempt to balance, but he’s not working with the wind and so it’s all struggle, like an erect monument that keeps falling.
This image is contrasted to that of a woman with her legs tied around her neck, carrying her body across the desert. This alludes to mobile vernacular architecture and to the body as a sanctuary. Like a snail she moves close to the ground, connected to the earth. She looks like a mythological creature that carries its own weight like a sack of wood up a path, depicting the self-determination and ability of those who are close to the earth to adapt and exist under harsh conditions and to rise above the physical. You see the power behind small efforts that constantly move forward. She is moving through the different irrigation paths that water had gone through at one time in the desert. It speaks to immigration patterns also—patterns delineated through nature that humans go through.
-Excerpt from Zapantera Negra Book
Death Valley California, USA 2009
Series of short body performances
Mia Eve, Caleb Duarte, Josue Duarte