Searching for Home / Leaving Yourself Behind
Our noses fill with dust. We enter the curvilinear sanctum where this immaterial soil hovers between thousands of individually labored slabs of adobe that fill a perimeter over which our eyes trace, failing to find a point to rest. The thick surface smothers the noises spawned from within, echoes have no place here. It is a space of penetrating sounds that go no farther than the moment they are contained by.
He makes an altar out of the humble precious material. His body sublimates the space with movement that transcends affiliation. His arms fling beyond code, his back arches, stretching past the limits of his skin. From the top of his roughhewn pedestal he topples another’s sacred idol.
His body snakes between us. Bound in stockings, a fine mesh is all that protects him from the elements, he becomes part of the dry dirt, inhaling it deeply. It covers the floor in a soft brown layer that filters through and becomes a poultice on his skin. He clings to the walls, audibly popping his delicate casement along the straws and pebbles of the adobe bricks. The walls offer protection as much as they contain us, just as walls do. Just as he anoints them with dots of blood, they reciprocate and anoint him with their matter, both are transubstantiated, two bodies becoming one, stained with the same blood, sweat, tears, and clay. It is a mother, he is an earth. He searches through us for her. Sliding between, swiping us with his unction, making us wholly aware that to step out of his way is to avoid being transmogrified and fettered to him as part of this ritual. We cling to the observer’s periphery. The blood begins to spot and seep along the weave of the material, spreading itself like a stigmata. It is a sacrifice. One has to give something back to the land, if one wishes to receive from it.
We are all strangers but some of us more than others. Depending on where you are, and as long as your name is hidden, you may sometimes pass. But the focus narrows when one of your own transgresses. Hairs prickle, rising, as you think, “What now? Do I apologize? How can I stand as a model? Mark myself as different? How do I not become a denier, not turn my back?” The rest may let you slip among them but you are always aware that the tides of opinion are fickle things.
An offering is given and we are part of it. Blood is shared between hands, dried mud, and bodies. Maker and made, object and substance, shelter and fortress. His hands might as well have touched all of us, they clap, syncopating lightly, casting his blood over us; now sanctified, finally in unison, leaning, sitting, and lying on top of the bricks, breathing heavy, as one.
I walk out with the dust, the damp, and the blood, on and in me. It travels with me the rest of the night and into the next day. Coating me from the inside, revealing itself once again in stages, as traces on tissue, leaking out less imperceptibly than the way it floated in. I journey with it as I continue to navigate where this tinged body belongs, behind or in front of which walls, thinking about other bodies, other bricks, and always borders.
The final event of the Resonant Forms festival took place at LACE on September 13th 2015 within artist Rafa Esparza’s monumental installation, i have never been here before. The program included a series of performances by Raquel Gutiérrez, Sebastian Hernandez, Nikki Darling, Patricio Morales, and Rafa Esparza.
Photos courtesy of Lainey Racah, Oscar Santos and Ting Ying Han