Body

A ten performance piece

Death Valley CA

Caleb Duarte, Mia Eve Rollow, Joseu Dusrte

2008

caleb duarte piñon

Tide

Death Valley Ca.

Mia Eve Rollow

Caleb Duarte

2008

Exerpt from Zapantera Negra; Interview by Marc Leger about collabration with Mia Eve Rollow.

 

Q: What happened after you arrived in Chiapas? Can you tell me about EDELO (En Donde Era La ONU) Where the United Nations Used to Be? Was the UN building occupation the first thing you did in San Cristobal?

 

While in grad school in Chicago, 2008, I was invited by the National Mexican Museum in Chicago to fly to Chiapas and meet and interview artist for a show in Chicago. I took that time to visit Zapatista territories and visited Acteal and the University of the Dirt in San Cristobal de las Casas. Acteal is a small community that experienced a massacre of 45 woman and children in 1997. It was paramilitary groups supported by the Mexican government in retaliation for the Zapatista uprising. The three-day ceremony was full of installation, performance, painting, music, and video projections, with an international audience of artist and activist, in which the “art world” would have labeled as simply a religious traditional Mayan ritual. For me it was a contemporary artistic and cultural expression. It was here and in the now. I knew then that I needed to come back. In 2009, after graduating, the Museum flew me back for a second visit for an art exhibition at the Jamie Sabinas Art Center in Tuxla Guitiereze, the State Capital. I asked for a one-way ticket.

 

I then invited Mia Eve Rollow to join me, which has been a pillar to the EDELO project in her assertion of art existing outside conventional ideas of reality. She was an artistic partner and collaborator from graduate school in Chicago. We had been exploring isolated body sculptural performances do to specific circumstances she found herself in. Mia had recently suffered from a car accident while in her first semester of grad school that left her paralyzed from the waist down. She was looking into options for severe nerve pain in the US and her limited options through Western Medicine was of heavy numbing drugs or an implanted electric device that would send electric waves through the body. We knew of traditional healers in Chiapas and Oaxaca and she decided to join in on the journey to discover natural holistic medicines as well as art as a healing path. Her pain was of every twenty minutes on a daily bases and it was severe. After four years of exploring holistic traditional medicines we can say that Mia has found natural cures and practices to her physical condition. But before reaching this level, we tried many things. I would bury her in hot sand for two hours a day, wrap her up in clay and canvas, spread creams and medicinal drops, and place heat with open cut plants taped over her body. It was a circus of body performances based on suffering and need; functional theatrical actions of self-inflicted false and lively hopes for cures. These isolated performances soon became community performance extending into larger social and political investigations. Looking back, everything was interconnected. Our personal and creative paths lined up in Chiapas.

 

Mia moved to Oaxaca to work with a physical rehabilitation center Pina Palmera while I left for Chiapas to look for a suitable space. While in Chiapas I ran into the occupation of the offices of the United Nations where over one hundred community members occupied the central plaza. There were large crowds camping in front of the offices and about a dozen made their way into the building for several days. At the time, I thought very little of it as I was on a mission for searching for the perfect soon to be art space. This kind of occupation has become a common practice in Chiapas. A few months later, I find that the United Nations moved to another space and that the building had been empty for several months. I gave it a look and it was a perfect fit for what we had in mind. EDELO, Where the United nations Used to Be, for the next four years, became a house of experimental art, community collaborations, musical and cultural events. It became a crazy house.