Introduction: Participatory event
Through social media I kept contact with the updates of the 43 missing students case, I followed firmly the news from different sources, relaying on some more than others and comparing alternative news (not linked to official governmental sources) to the news delivered in Helsinki. (which I also don’t have access because of a language issue but I rely on what others say they know)
I gathered as much information I could from the web and after 40 days from the day of the enforced disappearance I decided to organise an event, than would be participatory, long durational and in which my goals were intuitive, not clear enough for it represented a huge challenge to deal with this issue in the Finnish context.
Description: I started the event dressed up in some kind of kitschy representation of the Mexican Day of the Dead. Dressed as La Catrina I embodied death in its cultural comercial form, I walked through the main square and with a wooden matraca (rattle) I announced the beginning of the performance. Few people approached. In the studio 43 folded chairs, placed on the floor and on top of each other were the only furniture, outside the entrance there were two metal pedestals with colourful plastic flowers.
On a corner there was a set for tea, coffee and biscuits, tequila, a Mexican soup cooked by Hannah Gullichsen with bowls and spoons. As the audience came in the space they lifted up a chair from the pile and sat down to eat, self organised volunteers offered soup and drinks to the rest. Dressed as Catrina I played from a computer La Llorona. Audience sat down, ate and drank. After the meal I unfolded all the chairs and aligning them up in rows simulating the chairs lined up in a classroom facing the lateral wall. I brought printed articles that would described the event at the same time I would slowly start stripping the costume off. I had printed the position of the European Parliament towards the Mexican government responsibility.
I brought the computer close to the wall and opened the list where pictures, names and age of the 43 students where displayed. I started drawing one by one on A4 white paper with a pencil but after a while it was many of us drawing on the floor. It took around 1”30’ hours to finish the 43 portraits, meanwhile many members of the audience left the studio. The drawings were glued with tape to the wall in a compact structure, I brought the flowers inside and placed them on the sides of the studio while the chairs where folded with help from the audience, and laid in piles into five black plastic bags. Once finished the audience pulled back, I took a thick brush and covered every portrait with black paint leaving only their name and age. I brought the pedestal with flowers, placed them in the middle of the room and covered them with a black plastic bag.
Long durational performance
Description: Next day I came back to Studio 1 and brought a long roll of paper, makeup and a mirror. I spread out the paper and placed myself on the edge. I made my face same as the day before, as La Catrina but without the outfit and pressed my face on the paper. I wrote the name of each student under each imprint. The action took around 2”30’ hours.
Everything was kept in the same order as how the performance ended on the fist evening. On the third day I was pushing myself to perform again for a very small audience. The performance was not participatory as it was on the first day, it was a sort of conclusion, cleaning up, an ending funeral.
Description: I stand in the middle of Studio 1 wearing a pair of dark cotton tights and a long dark grey pullover, coming out of the dark I walk slowly while shaking with my hands under a dark pullover a snail neckless making a rattle sound. The neckless breaks and I stop. From my still body wet white stones come from the sleeves of the pullover. I pour water on the floor and start walking in the room leaving my footprints behind. I take out of the plastic bags the chairs and place them again in rows, this time between the audience and me, as an invisible audience facing the stage.