Text in the RIAP festival catalog
“Birmanie Ouverture et/ou telérance. De Soi, de l’autre, du tissu et du corps politiques”
(BURMA Opening and/or tolerance. Of ourselves, of the other, of the political fabric and bodies)
The closing night of the RIAP 17 edition, exclusively devoted to Burmese artists, promised to be a powerful night in regards to art conveying political claims. It was with great enthusiasm that we were waiting for this country, whose name evokes several political phenomena and whose exoticism is exacerbated by our western condescension. Nevertheless, while we had already been confronted by our own Canadian policies that denied the necessary visas to some of these artists, the evening that already promised interesting tinges, suddenly changed its color.
Seven of the performance artists that had previously performed during the preceding nights, kindly accepted the RIAP organizers’ proposal to offer a second performance under the theme of “Burma: opening and/or tolerance?” The purpose of this night was to reflect –through the different performances—on Burma’s specific situation and how this country is constructed within our imaginations.
“The personal is political”: This famous slogan of ‘60s feminism takes — in this context — new meanings that are not restricted to questions of gender. In our days, –and actually we could say the same thing about the ’60s, even if the feminists had made this sentence their motto– this slogan is not only used to refer to the feminist field but, in general terms, to the social and political fields. Since all the artists performing this night reflected on the relationship between the personal on one side, and public and political domains on the other; this famous slogan inevitably comes to our minds.
NADIA GRANADOS / In any case, this motto remains both for Nadia Granados and for La Fulminante Roja, a feminist motto. In her practice the Colombian artist explores the relationship between pornography and violence. She uses a body –her own– and hyper eroticizes it. By doing so, she manipulates the media and pornography codes. In a Latin American context that is traditionally chauvinist, where male power upon female bodies is shown in numerous ways, Nadia Granados claims that she speaks on behalf of Latin American womens’ bodies.
Opening the night, La Fulminante arrives to the garage inside a pickup truck covered by mud. The car is driven by a man who carries a megaphone. Walking on high heels, she looks for some soapy water and starts cleaning the vehicle. Performing the most provocative postures she slowly rubs the car, she climbs on it, she covers herself in mud and dirty water. As for the man with the megaphone, he is committed to a rigorous interrogation. From the very beginning the audience easily understands that what he is reading is a form of Citizenship and Immigration from Canada. However, by the end of the performance, the interrogation intensifies and the questions become more and more personal and outrageous. The artist –busy with her task–, doesn’t answer the questions. Her back is, by this time, uncovered, and she throws herself into a war to see who is the strongest: Her sexual allure or the intransigence we can guess behind the questionnaire?
For a time span of ten minutes or so, and by the use of stereotypes –which would be funny if they were not so critical– her performance is galvanized by its own sexual energy. This energy is the essence of Granados’ actions. It is in this way that she manages to create a particular unease within the spectator. By adopting this uncomfortable position –nurturing herself by which she is criticizing, transforming the female body into an object—Nadia Granados sets the tone of the evening: It is also necessary to denounce the Canadian policies.