Tuesday 8 November sees the opening of the new Milanese space, Ida Pisani’s Prometeogallery, which is now added to her well-known premises in the Church of San Matteo in Lucca. Opening the season will be Guatemalan artist Regina José Galindo’s first one-woman show in Italy with a performance of powerful emotional impact conceived specially for this occasion.
Awarded the Golden Lion for young artist at the most recent Venice Biennale where she appeared in the Always a Little Further section directed by Rosa Martinez, Regina José Galindo is also just back from the Prague Biennale 2 and the Tirana Biennale. Her first international appearance, however, was in the 2001 Venice Biennale curated by Harald Szeemann.
Her performance “¿Quien puede borrar las huellas? (Who can remove the traces?)” immediately became known to a wide public as a gesture of personal resistance and a collective portrait of a suspect society. Here a young woman dressed in black crosses Guatemala City from the Constitutional Court to the National Palace with her feet covered in blood, carrying out a silent, stubborn act of protest against the possible election of ex-dictator Rios Montt as president.
In her first performance in 1999, however, Galindo was already combining her own body space with social space, when “unheard“ she recited her poetry suspended ten meters above a public square in Guatemala City.
A genuine exponent of the art of “repetition” in Deleuze terms, Regina José Galindo returns to places where the public has witnessed the drama of history and “repeats” actions with her body. This repetition is never the same as a return to the identical but restores possibility to what has been: it does not restore the past as such but makes it still possible. It is not representation, therefore, but a kind of theatre of repetition that is at the heart of the rituals that Galindo presents, her strange ceremonies, direct performances and recitations, realized in the here and now and repeated in real movement.
Herein lies the intrinsically political nature of her work. It is not simply the presentation of a general statement or act of protest. Works such as “( ) golpes”, presented at the last Venice Biennale in which the artist strikes her body once for each Guatemalan woman murdered in the previous year, cannot be totally explained without the concept of “repetition”. Without it, we cannot properly interpret extreme performances such as Hymenoplasty in which the artist puts her body in danger. The poetic nature of all her works, however, also derives from this. She herself calls them “acts of psychomagic”, emphasizing the element of suffering.