This project was developed during the class "Growing Clutures: Bioart 1 at AKV St. Joost tutored by artist Adriana Knouf.
Aligned with xenofeminist theories and practices, my personal work analyzes with criticism the building of History of gynecology in western societies and how patriarchy has built power relationships and violence in the field of medicine. Having suffered gynecology abuse and violence in many forms, understanding the tools that are usually in hands of people that abuse their power became a necessity. But I want to understand my own body and take care of it. In Helen Hester words: “(our project) doesn’t reject technology (nor science(…)) on the contrary, it considers it as a part of a whole in out everyday life and a field with potential for feminist intervention” (Xenofeminism, Hester, p. 21)
Engaging with lichens became a challenge to think outside my own body and think about other living organisms with love and care. I reflected on my own bioma and microorganisms in it. Why does medicine always takes everything that the body exudes as something “bad”? Why am I scared of my own body's natural reactions and bacterias but I can easily admire a lichen? How can I engage with a lichen from my own experience, that I seem to be unable to leave behind?
“The Xather of my Children'' is an installation composed of a full video documentary made in a vlogging format that tells the love story between myself and a lichen I met at the forest. Told from a first person perspective, this video satirizes the narrative of love through social media and reproduction as a way to conform to a “functional family”. Through the video, the spectator is taken from the place we met to my house, where we finally “make love” appropriating medical tools in a home, comfortable and violence-free environment. A sample of my vaginal discharge taken with a speculum and a piece of lichen lay now together in five malt extract agar plates (the uterus) where our children will fully develop over time. I named them Marina, Idea, Azul, Jazmín, and Luna. I chose all female names because there are already too many man names in science. It means a little bit of historical repairing. I will document in pictures their growth over the days. They are displayed in another table on the installation. The third part of the installation is a silver tray (usually used to put food on it) with the tools I used: a metal speculum, sterile q-tips, alcohol 70%, cotton, lube, a gripper and a sterile bag with lichen.
As a research in progress, this is a project created to connect my own body flora, bacterias and fungus, with lichens to create a new complex life. Other than gynecology and obstetrics, it also aims to dialogue and critique more power structures, such as language and gender (for example, using que X to designate the role of the lichen), science institutions and formalities, the concept of “purity” and the sacrality of nakedness. “The Xather of my children'' also makes fun of the patriarchal concept of family as a mother-father-son-and-daughter model and sexual reproduction, presenting a parallelism between agar plates as uterus, vaginal discharge as eggs and lichen as a second-genderless part in reproduction.
Synecdoque (2022) film
(Soon showing in Eye Lab Museum, Amsterdsam, NL)
The Xather of my children (2022)
I began to be interested in the human body and women's sexuality even before I knew it. I rubbed myself and kissed my girlfriends and our classmates' mothers would call us perverted. I didn't care.
Long time later, at the same period that I was having the strongest depression I have ever suffered, I had my first gynecology emergency. I went to the doctor, she shoved a speculum into my vagina without telling me and I cried. She said to me "what are you whining about?". I arrived home still crying. I had this illness considered chronic and every time I went to the gynecologist was terrifying. Under this view and hopeless diagnosis I believed my body was betraying me. I was vulnerable. I revived trauma.
In an angry mood, I came to terms with the reality that doctors attending me were using a des-personalization method and did not consider my feelings nor my whole body well being.
But silence causes illness.
Almost out of necessity, I began exploring my own body with consciousness carrying physical and psychiatric trauma with me.
This project started with a deep research on the beginnings of scientific anatomy-gynecology illustrations (s. XVIII) that used the so called “synecdochic chopping” (Uparella, P. Jáuregui, A. 2018) technique to study the female reproductive system through women corpses .
The first part of the film is composed by selected edited multimedia archives from later centuries (s. XX) regarding such topics as reproduction, grouth of syphilis endemic, abortion and contraceptual pills. This project means to depict the violence in the creation of occidental medical history and episteme with the overwhelming predominance of the male power/voice over female bodies and the creations of private-made-public concepts filled with moral value such as health, maternity and illness.
In a second part of the video, I dialogue with the first part of it using accessible and low quality tools: a webcam, and a lantern. I analyze and re-discover my own body and soul in a personal and poetic narrative. Using cheap gadgets to represent and film my body is a direct message that wants to play with the meanings of science and medicine and their private use of encrypted language and information.
Synecdoche, as a research-experiment film, aims to articulate with History through my point of view, a point of view that tries to repair damage, confront fear and acknowledge desire. A point of view that does not separate the soul from the body and a body that speaks through itself.