A NICHO FOR COATLICUE
After a mindful and significant weight loss in 2009, I began exploring found spaces where I could not previously fit. Over the past four years, I have traveled throughout the United States, China and Mexico creating a series of site-sensitive installations where I fit my body into small spaces. I have two rules for this work:
1.) I enter a space the way I found it. 2.) I stay inside of the space for as long as my body or the space will allow.
What began as an exercise in measuring my new body has evolved into a cross-cultural exploration of how humans fit into various environments, corporally and conceptually.
While implementing this work in Mexico, I sunburned images that were relevant to the history of each place I traveled into my skin. As I fit my body into various spaces, I also placed these fading historic icons into contemporary situations.
What is now known as the city of Puebla, the Aztecs named Cuetlaxcoapan, which means “where the serpents shed their skin.” Puebla is known for its architecture and impressive cathedrals. While traveling there, the people of Puebla explained that when the Spanish took over, the indigenous communities were forced to build cathedrals. It is believed that the indigenous people built idols of their own deities into the churches so that when forced to pray inside of these buildings, they would be praying to something they believed in. Inspired by this story, I set out to create work that acknowledged this invisible part of Puebla’s history.
Over the course of three days, I sunburned the image of Coaticue, the Aztec Serpent Goddess of life, death, and rebirth into my back. As I traveled throughout Puebla, I searched for a nicho* for Coatlicue. Wearing a shirt that exposed my back, I positioned my body inside crevices between buildings and spaces in and around the cathedrals in Puebla’s Zocolo and inside domestic spaces. As I explored various public and private spaces bearing Coatlicue’s image on my back, I discovered the countless complexities of the physical spaces in Puebla, shedding my own skin in the process.
*a recess in a wall that displays religious icons used to honor saints