This performance is dedicated to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shootings on June 12, 2016.
These days, 49 is a difficult number, a number that, to me, represents death, loss, dehumanization, Orlando, scarlet, horror, intolerance, victims, etc.
In “Scarlet Break,” I dealt with the constitutive aspects of our social capacity to produce power hierarchies. People who believe they are of a higher status than those who are part of a social group different to their own, usually a minority, assume they have the right to judge and discriminate. They view others’ lives as less worthy, or as not holding inalienable rights.
The performance consisted of plates numbered one to 49, each representing a victim in the shootings. I used more than 49 plates in total as, at the time of the performance, there were still people mortally wounded and the death toll was potentially going to increase. In the end, 49 people were killed. However, reflecting the deaths at the time, each plate after the 49th was numbered with 49.
As a solemn farewell ritual, I took the dishes one by one. I labelled them with a number from one to 49, then, lips smeared with scarlet lipstick, I gave them a kiss —a subtle kiss goodbye. With energy and vigour, I hurled them at a wall that formed part of a corner. The plate broke, then collided with the other perpendicular wall, finally crashing to the floor.
I used this aesthetic experience to connect with the true feeling of loss. Dishes were used to symbolize the loss of fragile human beings due to intolerance and homophobia. The dish is an element of our everyday, which we use to perform important vital activities for survival, such as eating. Therefore, it is intrinsically linked to human life. The dishes, when carrying out this forced journey through space, were dismantled, losing their original and fundamental properties. This action generated a conceptual vulnerability, as elements fragmented and resignified.
I believe only art can reach the depths of emotion invoked by such sensitive and horrifying situations. Drawing an awareness of these harsh realities of human co-existence, as each dish broke, I feel that a social questioning took place. The work makes demands—demanding these vicious walls of discrimination to be shaken down and overthrown, demanding there should be no more victims of hate. It desires peace and tranquility, love and unity, demanding tolerance and a fraternal embrace at all levels of society.