THEY TOOK MY FACE AWAY BUT TODAY THOSE WHO MARCH ARE MY NEW FACE (ME QUITARON EL ROSTRO PERO HOY LOS QUE MARCHAN SON MI NUEVA CARA)
MATRAQUITA / DIANA SORIA HERNÁNDEZ
On the night of September 26, 2014, members of the Mexican Federal Police attacked students from the Rural School Raul Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero State; in complicity or frank cooperation of the Mexican State. Forty-three students were taken and later, disappeared, leaving behind six persons killed, one of them Julio César Mondragón. The case of Julio César stands out from the rest, because he was skinned alive in the place of the confrontation with a brutality that so far remains unpunished and inexplicable, but that could be read as a message from necro-politics, a message within terror that seeks collective paralysis.
In social media, Julio César’s corpse circulated widely, uncensored, and provoked a collective response of appropriation of the terrifying image. With photomontages, memes, and texts, the image was resignified in different ways but as a sign of resistance from the collective. “They took my face, but today those who demonstrate are my new face” can be read on a banner used in a demonstration, which was at the same time copied and used for another protest. This is my performance; it’s a new version of that banner, it provides a new face.
Each performance made for “They took my face, but today those who demonstrate are my new face” has taken different forms in each context it has been presented; gallery spaces, public spaces, and academic venues, but what remains in its essence is the same: I cover my face in thick layers with red mud erasing personal traits and I start blowing a balloon hidden in my mouth transforming the faceless mud. Sometimes I reach out for someone from the audience to blow a balloon given in the beginning of the performance, then I exchange breath as a symbol of life and what keeps us alive. Sometimes in Spanish I ask the audience the name of the student and then I write it on the wall with a pencil. In the end I press my face against the wall or floor, leaving behind the trace of a mud face. I clean myself off of the remaining mud with a wet towel and I get back into my everyday clothing. There is no closing curtain, the performance begins and ends without announcement, as it was on that night.