MAL DE AMORES (MERCEDES)
“Mal de Amores” is a performance piece that re-contextualizes the Salvadoran heartache ritual of the same name. Within the Queens museum I constructed a crossroads with soil. I then used a BOSS calling card to phone my sister in Soyapango, El Salvador whom I hadn’t seen in eighteen years due to being separated by a Civil War and the refugee situation created by it. I chose to use a BOSS calling card to call attention to life in the 1990s–2000s in New York and examine how these cards were a type of immigrant ritual to stay connected to loved ones pre Skype and Facebook. The soil and card are both references to landscape since calling cards are often littered around the streets of Brentwood and Queens after they are used. The conversation was improvised in order to capture a genuine view of our relationship. The phone was amplified so the conversation could be well heard throuhgout the museum. The call lasted the length of the calling card credit which was twenty minutes. I then laid the phone and the calling card in the middle of the crossroads I had made.
Some topics that arose during our conversation were memories of each other, where we’d go when I would finally be able to visit her, an articulation of how distance affects us, how her kids are doing, her next visa application appointment, a tearful apology to each other, etc. Frequently throughout the performance we would say “Hello, are you there still?” since calling cards sometimes have faulty signals.
The space activated by the ritual, and perhaps also by performance art, enabled my sister and I to voice things that for years were left unsaid. I wanted the piece to address the awkwardness of talking on the phone with relatives in other countries that I felt growing up. How sometimes the phone is passed to us by our mothers and how words are sometimes hard to find. We have talked more regularly on the phone and become closer since the time of the performance. She has since gotten a visa and hopefully I will be reunited with her sometime in 2016.
The piece was created for PEFORMEANDO curated by Hector Canonge. The piece is also shown as a small installation where the aftermath of the video is recreated and a TV is set at the feet of the mic stand that loops the performance. Documentation of the performance can be viewed at: youtube.com/watch?v=cE5QtCxEuOc