erasing HER history at ‘EXTRA’ festival of performance art 2013, Mexico

Wednesday, 13 March, 2013
Academia de San Carlos, Mexico
Sinéad O'Donnell, erasing HER history, performance, EXTRA Festival, Mexico


In March 2013 Sinéad O'Donnell took part in EXTRA Festival Internacional de Performance in Antigua Academia de San Carlos, Mexico City, 2013. The festival took place at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) Foundation and was curated by Pancho Lopez.

Artists taking part were: Doris Steinbichler (Austria), Milena Azocar (Chile), Eve Bonneau (France), Rivelino Diaz (Mexico), Sinéad O'Donnell (Ireland), Paola Paz Yee (Mexico), Louis Almond-Huachistàculo (Chile), Kathryn Paucar (Peru), Vasan Sitthiket (Thailand).

"With abstracted thoughts following me and reflecting upon the Christian and Muslim possibilities of female erasing and eroding of histories  - where women or anything female has been manipulated or taken out of history, I found myself in Mexico at the Academy of San Carlos invited to make new work at the ‘EXTRA’ performance art festival. The Academy of San Carlos was the first major art academy and the first art museum in the Americas founded in 1781. The festival performances took place in the main lower floor foyer, a space that is surrounded by statues of what I believe originated from its art collection that began with plaster casts of original Greek, Roman and European works used as teaching aids in the university.

Surrounded by marble statues that towered over me such as fallen angels, nude male figures and tangled women, their glances didn’t seem to quite meet each other. I decided to place large loose stones onto the floor in the shape of a mount. For a time before the performance began I lit incense in between the rocks. It smoked for a while and I watched the passers by study the smoking rocks as intensely as they studied the statues.

The action

I placed myself behind the rocks and crouched down so I was hidden from the audience that gathered before me. The rocks were raw in comparison to the marble statues surrounding the hall. I took one rock from the pile and cradled it carefully I then approached the audience and showed them the rock whilst I hushed it like a child, gently. Gradually the hushing sound became more of a struggle, angry, violent; I put the rock back in its place. I stooped down behind the rocks and applied red paint to my face. I jumped upwards again appearing with a red face this time. I stooped down again behind the rocks and pulled a balaclava onto my head. I jumped upwards and downwards from behind the rocks shouting ‘si’ ‘no’ ‘si’ ‘no’ and my face appearing with and without the balaclava. I stood up on top of the rocks and poured a bottle of water over my head and it spilled into the rocks. I released colored ribbons that flowed onto the rocks and gently they found a place to settle. Sounds came from my mouth (that I cannot recall without going back into the performance again). They where sounds that surfaced and came out of my mouth. I stood on top of the rocks attempting to mirror the mounted statues surrounding me, finally I lifted a jar of gold glitter held it over my head and it poured down covering my head and face creating a living monument."

- Sinéad O'Donnell, 2013

View a gallery of images from this performance here. 


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