project realized RAVE 2014: LA OVEJA NEGRA, 2014, performance and video (6’21”)
I’d also be happy if everything could be resolved by isolating the black sheep. I also see the black sheep. I see so many. I see them all. That’s the trouble…
Pier Paolo Pasolini
In a far-off country many years ago there lived a Black Sheep.They shot him.
A century later, the repentant flock erected an equestrian statue of him, which looked very good in the park.
From then on, every time Black Sheep appeared they were promptly executed so that future generations of common, ordinary sheep could also indulge in sculpture.
In the imagery of Regina Josè Galindo, the words of Pier Paolo Pasolini, from his last interview the day before he was killed, find their perfect counterpart in the cutting observations of the writer Monterroso.
LA OVEJA NEGRA _ LA PECORA NERA is the first action in the artist’s career where the otherness of animals become central. This has two sides to it: firstly the black sheep becomes a metaphor for that which is different, the outsider, the dissident intellectual who cannot be kept silent (in a way biographical and social at the same time, as only great artists are capable). At the same time the black sheep is just as much “the most different, the other, the monstrously other, the unrecognisable other” (from Jacques Derrida La Bestia e il Sovrano). The black sheep is other than ourselves, and for human beings, every animal is in the end a black sheep.
On 31 May 2014, a beautiful wood in the Colle di Sant’Ermacora (Udine), was the location for the performance La oveja negra by Regina José Galindo, artist in residence at RAVE East Village Artist Residency.
In her performances, Galindo has always addressed the pain of those that power wishes to force into silence and oblivion. Here she gives back a powerful voice to those who are the absolute lowest: animals. “Below the spaces where the coolies of the earth perish by the millions, the indescribable, unimaginable suffering of the animals, the animal hell in human society, would have to be depicted, the sweat, blood, despair of the animals” (Max Horkheimer, the skyscraper).
Galindo does this in a physical and concrete way. The artist becomes a living monument. She becomes a pulsing and immobile sculpture, rooted in the naked earth. For an hour her limbs will be buried and she will take on the anthropomorphic appearance of a sheep with dark hair, in some kind of impossible hybridisation. The artist is alive, but made of stone, like a monument to the black sheep throughout time, the high voices raised for this ‘firing squad’.
A dozen sheep and their lambs, saved from the slaughterhouse, share this moment with her. For some time they have got used to living in complete freedom on a vast hill run by an activist, they now see the temporary border of a fence constructed for the performance in a natural hollow, an amphitheatre suitable for pagan rituals, where the simulacrum is human. But the animals are not actors, they do not follow a pre-arranged script, and above all they do not know fiction. During the action they bleat, run, stand still, worried by the “sculpture”, by the human made inoffensive. They become curious, moving close to Regina, and breaking down the barriers of diffidence. They brush against her and sniff her in a different contact.
In the absolute silence of the audience, the bleating of the sheep dominates the valley. This is all part of the performance. And their voices will not be smothered. At the end of the performance a lamb starts to call. His accusing voice is strong. And when he, too, is quiet, the gate is opened and the animals run away towards the hills, which had been temporarily denied to them. The artist remains alone within the fence, upending the perspective: a voice is given to those to whom it is habitually denied.
‘Todos los caminos conducen a Roma’ (all roads lead to Rome) is a saying that is known even in Guatemala. And just as the voice of Pasolini went to Rome from Friuli, so Galindo’s performance Caminos finds the same path, where all roads lead to life and all roads lead to death. The voices of the sheep during the performance are transmitted by direct streaming to the MACRO museum in Testaccio, the former Roman slaughterhouse. Abattoirs are constructed preferably far from sight, precisely to objectify bodies and social justify the slaughtering. But here art has re-appropriated a place of death, and brings back the living.
At the same time, they are not voices destined for pain, but saved from pain. Regina’s states that her performances are rituals of “psycho-magic”. Perhaps in this case the overturning of habitual practices is more complete than in others, thanks to the power of the gesture evoked. The artist brings us to new perspectives to gaze at the monument to the black sheep, alive, to a different way of thinking, alive and present. Resilience, the ability to see change as a challenge and as an opportunity becomes contemporary resistance.
During her residency, Galindo met the public on 29 May 2014 in a dialogue with the artist Tiziana Pers at Casa Cavazzini Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Udine, and on 2 June at Studio Tommaseo, Trieste Contemporanea in Trieste.
Regina Josè Galindo was born in 1974 in Guatemala City, where she lives and works. The artist defines her performances as “acts of of psycho-magic”, underlining the emotional charge and the suffering they carry within them. The artist uses a gestural aggression towards her own physical and psychological limits and thus transforms her own body into a permanent theatre of conflict, exemplifying the dramatic events experienced by the population of Guatemala and human society in general. She won the Golden Lion at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005 as best artist under the age of 35 for “creating a courageous action against power”. She has held exhibitions in numerous museums in Europe, America and Latin America. These include: ad ARTIUM – Centro Artium Vitoria Gasteiz (2012); Migros Museum, Zurich (2010); Museo Madre, Naples (2010); Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2010); Kunsthalle, Vienna (2010); MAM – Miami Art Museum, Miami (2009); MoMA-PS1 New York (2008). She participated at the 49th, 51st, 53rd and 54th Venice Biennials; 10th Bienal de la Habana, Cuba; the Sidney Biennial; 29th Ljubljana Biennial and the Sharijah Biennial. Her solo exhibition ‘ESTOY VIVA’ can currently be seen at PAC Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, in Milan, where it is open until the 8th of June.