A Performance to Re-member: Violeta Luna’s ‘Réquiem Para una Tierra Perdida,’ a Tribute to the Victims of the U.S.-Mexico War on Drugs

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From Stark's original event description:

"In line with Diana Taylor’s notion that performance consists of “vital acts of transfer, transmitting social knowledge, memory, and a sense of identity through reiterated actions” (25), my presentation will extend the idea of performance to include not only the transmission of memory, but also re-membering––in the sense of recalling and assembling.

Violeta Luna’s performance art piece Requiem for a Lost Land/Réquiem para una tierra Perdida (2011) is on one level a tribute to the victims of violence in the joint US-Mexico War on Drugs. On another, her performance provides us with a view to the traumatic impact that staged scenes of terror have had, almost exclusively, on the Mexican people. My analysis examines ways in which Luna creates a symbolic terrain––a locus of enunciation––wherein representations of violence on the human body serve artistically and politically to conjure the memories of silenced voices and dismembered corpses.

With video stills of Réquiem, I will show that Luna uses six white bottles emblazoned with the Mexican national emblem to represent the Mexican people. As she removes the lids and turns the bottles on their sides, paint symbolically spills from them like blood from decapitated corpses. The numerically labeled cards next to the “decapitated” bottles/bodies mark the space as a binational crime scene and inform viewers of the numbers, in the tens of thousands, of victims of the US-War on Drugs. Requiem is a symbolic depiction of a decapitated, dismembered Mexican body politic—and as such, strives to restore the faces of the voiceless victims of the U.S.-Mexico War on Drugs."

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