i was born in the south

Pictures 1-4 and 8 (the performance) by ©Markus Goessi. Pictures 5-7 and 9 are privates.

“I was born in the South”  is a performance I realised within the context of the Srinagar Biennial in Basel. I read the text below in parts and on small pieces of paper that I threw on the floor after reading them, one by one and standing in front of the Ausstellungsraum Klingental, surrounded by the audience. In one hand I held pink balloons with black dots. When I had finished reading the whole text, I asked the audience to take a balloon and, together with me, let them fly, as a metaphor to liberate every woman but also as a memento for all those women who have been killed because of being women. ©Text by me.

” I was born near the ocean. Wild and salty, with tall waves. I love my ocean. I was born in the South of México, in the State of Chiapas, near the Guatemala border. I was born in one of poorest states in the whole country, economically speaking, but ironically the richest one in natural resources.”

“I grew up in a place where, during my childhood, the turtles came to the seaside to spawn, this was before humans endangered their species and killed them all. I have never seen them again. It now feels as if it was all a dream.  I love my ocean.”

“I remember my childhood as a happy one, without problems and without worries. Certainly someday along the way I grew up and I was aware of the many problems -social and political problems-  in my country, in my State and elsewhere.”

“I grew up in the city, that was  supposed to be  “the door to Mexico“ – from the south to the north . This was the slogan of the International Folk Festival to attract  visitors from Central America. This door is still the entrance to Mexico,  however it  is rather used as the path for migrants to the „individual liberty“, the path to the land of their dreams: the USA. The entrance may have no exit…to anywhere except to their death.  The only thing they reach right there, after crossing the border is  death and sadness. They climb the “hope train- La Bestia (The Beast)“ without knowing what will happen with their lives. Just with high hopes and dreams.”

“I enjoyed to play around  with my siblings and cousins but I also loved to stop and listen  to the adult conversations.  I recall them talking laud and cheerfuly  about  the political, social and economic situation in the region. About an abandoned region, that was in urgent need of  a harbour.”

“Not long ago I was reading letters that my mother and I  wrote to each other. We used to write  letters when there was no internet, no e-mails, no digital communication like we have now. We loved to hand write notes to each other. In one of her letters, she wrote  about her trip to India with Pushpa. Pushpa was an economist and a  specialist in Asian and African countries. Over the years, she taught courses on Indian culture at the University of Virginia. She died at the age of 66 years. She had leukaemia. She was married to Bob, a jewish lawyer. For three months, Pushpa and my mother traveled  through the north of the country,  Punjab, where Pushpa was originally from.”

“My mother moved to Chiapas when she was 19 years old and after living a year near to Belize. She was nearly a child and she was already pregnant with  her first of four children.  But she didn’t complain or had  any problems managing her life in anunknown tropical , wild, humid and full of mosquitos region.. She loved the colors of the jungle, the colors of the ocean, the sounds of the monkeys and other unknown animals. No doubt she feelt at home.”

“My mother worked many years with the women from the highlands in Chiapas. She was engaged with different topics related to these women: sexuality, care, prevention, prophylaxis. She visited them once  a month and talked to them  about their rights. She was really engaged with this topic, it was of high importance to her because this women lived in  very violent family conditions.”

“I grew up with three siblings: two sisters and one brother.”

“It was 1997 when I read on the newspaper about the crime commited to 45 women, specially pregnant women and children in the highlands of Chiapas. All of them, of Mayan descent. These violent acts have  not been clarified even after 20 years. The government has not made declarations about this. The families are still waiting for an answer.”

“During that time,  nobody spoke about  “femicides”. But now, we know the name of this atrocity. Women who were murdered by their husbands, boyfriends and by unidentified men with high levels of violence, is called “femicide”. It seems like nobody is interested in the life of these women, and young girls . They were  not really mexicans, they were and they are still (just) Indigenas. Not now, not yesterday. Never. It seems like they didn’t exist, except for the turists, as a touristic attraction.”

“During  2007 and 2016 22’482 women were murdered in Mexico. This is  official data from  INEGI, Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography.. Every 4 hours-  a girl, a young woman or a woman will be a victim of murder, sexual harassment or indecent assault.”

 “I come  from where life doesn’t have any value, no value is given to life…says a popular mexican song: no vale nada la vida… la vida no vale nada….comienza siempre llorando y así llorando se acaba..por eso es que en este mundo la vida no vale nada. The life begins crying and ends also crying… that’s why the life in this world doesn’t have any value….”

I was born near the Pacific Ocean.”

©maricruz peñaloza 2023. All rights reserved. Total or partial reproduction of the texts or photos is expressly prohibited. All rights belong to the artist, both the texts and the photographs.