Lix Cua Rahro / Tus tortillas mi amor

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Lix Cua Rahro / Your Tortillas my Love

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A woman sits by herself in a dark room entranced by the repetitive and monotonous process of making tortillas. Rather than simply making the traditional dish for others to consume, the process is dragged out into being a ritual whereby the preparation of food becomes a token of her affection and a contemporary representation of consecrated tradition. Although she addresses the spectator at times, the actual insularity of her actions is underlined by her use of the Mayan dialect Q’eqchi’ in bursts that sound like incantations. The interplay between languages, Spanish and English in the subtitles and spoken Q’eqchi’, becomes a poetic device that signals the intercultural nature of present-day Guatemala, a constant push and pull between indigenous and colonial cultures.

In Lix cua rahro. Tus tortillas mi amor, Sandra Monterroso uses the act of making tortillas as a stand-in for a number of traditions and Mayan practices that have today come to be part of everyday life. In the case of this performance, tradition is played against a feminist consciousness, resulting in a closer look into the moment where the need to be liberated and the desire to maintain tradition intersect. Through the act of chewing the maize, spitting it back out, and then mixing the corn flour in preparation for making the tortillas while also reciting proverbs, the artist simultaneously performs a sacrificial labour of love by literally putting her body into her work and an act of rebellion whereby she spits on the idea of domesticity. Subsequently, the hearts that she mindlessly stamps on each tortilla, and outlines in her blood, are not only symbols of love but also of domestic alienation and self-negation, embodiments of the guilt of wanting to be free while also wanting to be tied to a sense of tradition.

In her work, Monterroso uses a wide variety of media such as performance, video, sculpture, and printmaking to illustrate the issues surrounding the negotiation of identity within the context of Guatemala. Oftentimes, she utilises artisan materials as expressions of, and a means of illustrating the tension between, gender and culture. Sandra Monterroso was born in Guatemala City in 1974. She holds a BA in Graphic Design from the Universidad Rafael Landívar in Guatemala City and an MA in Design Processes from the Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla. Monterroso is currently a Ph.D. in Practice candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

Jasmine Magaña

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