Artivism in Process: making mujer_cita_MIA

mujercita artist

Once again, it’s late at night and I am at work in my studio: painting, scratching on celluloid and editing sound. Actually just finished the hand-crafting of the 16mm footage, and have spent all night compiling the dozens of interviews that will make up the soundtrack for this work.  I have recorded over 5 hours of conversations with women from varying ages and backgrounds. ALL have shared with me at least one story of child molestation, sexual assault or rape.

The interviews include a lot of my own commentaries and the sharing of my own experiences, which include three rapes in my adult life and one at the age of 4. I have spoken to about 13 women, of whom only two have never been raped. Of those two, one endured an attempted rape and the other a child molestation.  Of the group that admitted to having been raped, three also endured physical violence in the form of beatings or physical threats from intimate male partners.  Maybe it’s my particular group of friends, but these statistics don’t match that “1 in 3” that’s always being thrown around as the actual incidence of rape and violence among women.  Of the 13 women interviewed, only one was raped by a stranger at gunpoint, and only one was raped by more than one man in the same incident.  The vast majority were incidents that involved friends, dates, acquaintances, intimate partners, and family members.

Among the interviewees, I spoke with Patricia, a Mexican woman from Juarez and former sex worker, who shared with me the atrocities that her home town is besieged by: horrific accounts of rape, murder and mutilation, and unspeakable acts of hatred and violence against women.  Another woman shared with me an intimate, chilling story about being raped by her husband shortly before they were married, and how this incident shaped the dynamic of the abusive relationship that ensued between them after marriage. The conversations also include snippets of commentaries on sexuality in general, sexual shaming and the ways in which power in heterosexual relationships is often defined by sexual acts of coercion that bleed into the fiber of daily domestic life.

mujercita still 1

Admittedly, I could have selected a more optimistic subject to be working on, but what saves the beauty and integrity of the piece is the work of the two dancers that I have filmed for the first set of videos in the series. Niurca Marquez is a dancer and choreographer of Cuban origin whose work blends Nouveau Flamenco with techniques rooted in ancient forms.  Lucia Aratanha is a dancer, choreographer and theater director, originally from Brazil, whose work juxtaposes classical and contemporary dance with experimental movement theater. Their grace and power – both physical and spiritual = bestows the piece with the empowering serenity and strength that I hope to bring to the hearts and minds of my audiences, to women everywhere, to the Ladies’ Room.

If you happen to be in Miami on April 18-20, please drop by and see the piece at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W Flagler St. in Miami, in tandem with three musical concerts by contemporary local artists that will be presented there during those nights as part of FUNDarte’s Miami On Stage series showcasing the work of local artists. mujer_cita_MIA will be screened on the façade of the building, in the lobby, and in the Ladies’ Room.  Hope to see you there!

Now, back to editing…

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