Performance part of Diverse Works 'Bayou City Be All' curated by Ashley Dehoyos.
Special thanks to Leopoldo Germán Beltrán, Raquel Abend Van Dalen, Slant Rhyme, Brandon Shepherd, Stevie Spurgin. All photo documentation by Disha Khakheria & Moe Penders. Video clips by Farrah Fang & Leopoldo Germán Beltrán. Text art design by Alexandra Lartigue
13th Plague (pact of body + land)
A swarm of crickets, dissecting grasshoppers, text scroll and a jade dagger
13th Plague is a continuation of Muertx, a 12 photographic series double exposing my body as I were dead within desolate urban landscapes. 13th Plague becomes a live piece, further exploring the disintegration of the human body in relation to the land by staging an outdoor "decomposing" performance.
A poet recites a text scroll all while grasshopper specimens (Romalea Microptera) are dissected against my back with a jade dagger originating from the region of Oaxaca. After the dissection, a swarm of live crickets (Acheta Domesticus) are released on my body attempting to lay still on the pavement, as I were dead. The performance ends when the crickets begin to bite and sting my body.
Poet Raquel Abend Van Dalen recites her text, La cena, hand painted with red cochineal (Dactylopius Coccus) dye on a long rice scroll. The scroll is a declaration text, a poetic longstanding pact between the body and land, the inevitable processes of human decomposition and the non-human entities, like insects and microorganisms that take part of that relationship.
Ángel, ¿qué nos dicen los gusanos?
Solo tus manos
conocen la descomposición
como si fuera la creación verdadera.
- Raquel Abend Van Dalen
*Read full text La cena
Grasshopper prosector (Brandon Shepherd) uses a jade (phallic) dagger as a dissecting tool to cut open grasshopper specimens against the surface of my back. The jade dagger was obtained from an archeological region of Oaxaca and was borrowed for the purpose of this performance. Removing it from its archeological context, the dagger was exhumed from the terrain and resuscitated as a scientific instrument onto a trans queer body that continues to resist and live. The land and body are inextricably linked, the dagger carries the weight from where it was excavated from, passed down by generations into a new trajectory. Objects hold stories and energies from the people they have been associated with transferring spirit by just mere touch.
The performance is part of a series that centers the jade dagger as protagonist.
*Other works involving the jade dagger,
Dissecting grasshoppers & live crickets
The late Oaxacan artist, Francisco Toledo, described himself as a chapulín, grasshopper, an arthropod native and symbolic to the region. The non-human entity is vital to understanding our relationship external to ourselves, the land and environment that surround us.
The symbiotic relationship with non-human organisms is foundational in the processes of human decomposition. We are composed by non-human parts, spanning bacteria, fungi to the scavengers that eventually consume us. In a way, they maintain us but also declare our death, we are them, we are the land.
Preserved grasshoppers for the purpose of scientific dissection are used during the ritual performance, cutting them open, spilling their blood onto the surface of my back. Cricket bearer (Slant Rhyme) releases a swarm of live crickets all over my body as I lay on the street pavement, the crickets become stressed and hide under my stomach eventually biting my genital area. They escape and disappear within the surrounding grassland, what is left are hundreds of chirping sounds as the sun sets in the city horizon.
Watch full length video '13th Plague'