NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 82

p Song Within / Canto hacia dentro. In addition to confronting the couples visually, we are challenging the conventional form of a portrait, giving each the same visibility, thus upsetting the stereotypes that exist in our social constructions. “Divine Breath” was born from the desire to take a more profound look at domestic violence, and an interest in giving visibility to the silenced pain, hidden, for many women who have suffered this traumatic experience, often in order to validate and dignify it. Faced with this situation, internal and external factors condition the response that each woman gives to the pain, provoking, in many cases, its negation. Many keep silent for fear of losing their social position, making their daily affliction a silent Calvary; others do not know any other way of living because they have always seen physical abuse as the means of communication around which family relations are woven. There are also the women who feel that they deserve to be mistreated because of some abstract guilt that goes back to “Genesis,” that is to say, to original sin attributed to Eve. Each response of pain is intimately connected to the memory and the personal history of each woman. How to make visible artistic practices within the context of deep conflict? How to materialize the silence of the pain of women who have suffered domestic violence? 80 In response to these initial questions I conceived the project “Divine Breath” with the objective of giving expression to the pain through a symbolic act of a ritual. In this ritual the women experienced transformation, purification, rebirth and reinvention of themselves: the exhalation of the pain converted into divine breath. BRN-SPRING-2015.indb 80 For two years, 2012 and 2013, in Cartagena de Indias, and in collaboration with the social workers Janeth Jiménez and Rosiris López, I invited 100 women between the ages of 18 and 72, from different ethnic groups and social strata and a range of intellectual preparation to share some moments of reflection on the pain under which they live. The experience was a surprise for us all. I met with the women in my workshop in small groups, where I had placed 100 white vessels of differing shapes. Upon entering the space, the participants became aware of their existence. After some introductory indications, each one selected the one she wanted. The selection depended, perhaps, on the relationship between the size of the pain the person was feeling at the moment, and that of the vessel. In each one, in an intimate place, separate from the group, and individually, the participant exhaled her painful experience. Immediately afterward, as a repairing and cleansing function, she was given the task of breathing with purpose: breath as the creation of life. Once this exercise was completed the vessels were sealed and the initials of each participant were painted on her selection: a symbolic gesture to encapsulate the pain. The vessel thus ceased to be an external object, changing into an extension of the interior of each one of them. Finally, I gave each participant an amulet, the metal figure of a woman, as a symbolic and empowering representation of this experience. I found significant the acceptance of pain and subsequently, the realization of mourning, as a means for reconstructi ng a new life. Please describe the process of manufacturing the pieces for “Divine Breath,” in particular, the design of the miniature sculptures. Were these items made as drawings and then manufactured? How many different renditions of sculpture and vases are there? One of the challenges of this project was that of creating an object, which could simultaneously symbolize pain and also fulfill the function of a ceremonial element. After many ideas, sketches and readings, the results were these seven prototypes of white ceramic vessels. These recipients, besides resembling feminine forms, are containers, that is to say, ideal for depositing and conserving within them the pain of the 100 participants in “Divine Breath.” 3/29/15 11:42 AM