Saturday, November 15, 2008

Galvanize returns humbled - Michelle Isava

Isava, moments before her act at the launch of the Public Art project, Galvanize. Her performance was executed under a house, Belmont, Trinidad, W. I.

At the launch of the second Galvanize art project, a small gathering of young art students joined in to what appeared to be a casual barbecue event. Participant Michelle Isava closed the gathering with a performance that addressed the language of the female, herself, namely the Wanantra. Isava enacted a ritual that reflected an earthy woman, and evoked a sort of inner exorcism as she inscribed with words, The hole is whole, with charcoal within the concentric circle rings she marked out at the beginning. She was warmly applauded after the 10 minute performance.

Michelle Isava may be emulating or paying homage to the Cuban artist, Ana Mendieta. Mendieta’s work has been the core of feminist based martyrdom before her death in 1985. Her earthy motifs are quoted by many female artists in their attempt to find meaning to their womanhood and gender disembodiment but are treading on the memory of Mendieta’s foreboding truth, whether they fully understanding its impact and consequences as a result.

Ana Mendieta, 1948-1985 has been known for an artist who had strong grounding with the ideas that involved her work. She also produced works that mirrored her death. The performance artist used herself as a catalyst to evoke and evolve the female as casts, pyres visible and invisible to the eye. One of the most powerful elements was that she used her own hair to mask her gender and transform herself as herself while still keeping the beauty of the feminine. She also had striking and disturbing pieces that marked her death in a series of photographs of her face contorted onto a glass panel, a body mold saturated with a red dye and herself submerge into sand in a position that looked as if a body had fallen from the sky. These are daunting pieces because she lost her life from falling from a high rise. Therefore, the self reenactments in one’s work foretells their future in misfortune, luck or their omening end.

In this feinin, I felt traumatized, as if I was on my back in space waving my arms about, then I knew the end was near. Yet there was a beauty, chaotic, mirrored, self imposing and cocooned. In this self-portrait I was lost again, troubled by its facial resemblance, by its closeness to what I feared most. How could this be? Treason, marriage, mother, menstruation, lost...tired and blind in my eye

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