Testimonios corporales: Resistencia feminista en los performances de trauma de Lorena Wolffer
Landry, Tiffany Ashley
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In my thesis I analyze Mexican contemporary artist Lorena Wolffer’s performances and cultural interventions as embodied testimonies that transforms viewers into witnesses of femicide and domestic violence in both Ciudad Juarez and contemporary Mexico. In her performance piece Mientras dormíamos (el caso Juárez) (2002-2004), the artist uses a surgical pen to mark on her nude body the wounds, blows, cuts, and mutilated bodies of five hundred women who were murdered in Ciudad Juarez. Wolffer not only makes visible the hundreds of women who were assassinated in Ciudad Juarez but also creates a performance-testimony of trauma. Performance scholar Diana Taylor states that “trauma driven performances offer victims, survivors, and human rights activists ways to address the society-wide repercussions of violent politics and also, indirectly, to relieve personal pain.” By representing the physical and physiological wounds of gendered violence in her performances and interventions, the artist engages in a feminist resistance of a femicide culture in Mexico. To show how Lorena Wolffer’s performances-testimonies of trauma are a form of feminist resistance, my chapters’ focus on the artist’s performance Mientras dormíamos (el caso Juárez) and her cultural intervention project entitled [Expuestas: registros públicos], in collaboration with women from a domestic violence shelter in Mexico City. In order to frame the femicide culture in Mexico, I analyze the political and cultural performance of femicide in Ciudad Juarez in an additional chapter. I argue that both the physical acts of the mass femicide in Ciudad Juarez and the cultural representations of the women who were killed illustrates that marginalized women don’t count as a “grievable life” in Mexican society. I view the mass femicide in Ciudad Juarez in connection with the domestic violence in contemporary Mexico because both forms of gendered violence are a response to a femicide culture that erases women’s value and agency in Mexican society. I adopt an interdisciplinary approach in my thesis, incorporating performance and feminist theory, reception theory and legal studies in the construction of my analysis. I focus largely on the notion of Lorena Wolffer’s performances and cultural interventions as embodied testimonies that resist against gendered violence through the female body and embodied texts and oral testimonies from Mexican women who have experienced domestic violence. Taylor, Diana. “Trauma and Performance: Lessons from Latin America”. PMLA, Vol. 121, No. 5 (Oct., 2006), pp. 1674-1677. Butler, Judith. Precarious Life: Violence, Mourning, Politics. London: Verso, 2004. Page 19.
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