• Swinging Doors

    Date posted: December 7, 2009 Author: jolanta
    In a world where a six-hour flight can transport a person to a completely unfamiliar world, cultural identity is retained through rituals surrounding clothing, language, and food.

    Saskia Jordá

    Saskia Jordá, Brainwashing, 2006-2008. Sheep’s brain, sponge, toothbrush, soap, and water. Photo credit: Ann LePore. Courtesy of the artist.

    In a world where a six-hour flight can transport a person to a completely unfamiliar world, cultural identity is retained through rituals surrounding clothing, language, and food. Having relocated from my native Venezuela to the United States as a teenager, I became aware of the layers of skin that define and separate cultures—one’s own skin, clothing as the second layer of skin, the shelter of one’s dwelling place—all these protecting one’s hidden identity. As an interdisciplinary artist, my site-specific installations and performances map the tension between retaining one’s identity and assimilating a foreign persona. I reference the body as an alternate artifact.

    Three of my most recent pieces are Escaping pink, [karto gra’fia], and Brainwashing. In Escaping pink (2008) I use the ladder as a self-portrait. It explores the body in transition as it navigates psychologically through space. Pink represents the “ideal,” the “perfect reality.” In this work I struggle with my own perceptions of what’s “real” and what’s “perfect” as I attempt to escape them. Another installation work, [karto gra’fia] (2008) maps my own bilingual experience, particularly as it relates to the points where two different languages meet, overlap, and fuse. The doors represent the two languages I juggle on a daily basis, English and Spanish, and the large suspended mesh between them represents the interconnectivity between these two languages colloquially termed “Spanglish.” In my recent performance, Brainwashing, I pose myself as a “lavandera,” a stereotype of a Latina woman washing. Sitting on a low wooden bench in a desolate silo, I wash a sheep’s brain, gently at first and increasingly rougher, using a sponge, a toothbrush, and my hands. A basin of murky water and a disintegrated brain are what’s left behind. I wash my hands and walk away with indifference. The piece can be read on a political level, reflecting the loss of individuality within an imposed culture. This performance is an ongoing social experiment, and has taken place in the U.S.A, Mexico, Switzerland, and most recently at the Museum of Modern Art in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

    Comments are closed.