Regina José Galindo
Born and raised in Guatemala, a country besieged and destroyed by years of civil war, Regina José Galindo creates performances that emerge from her need to amplify the fear engendered by a closed and hostile dictatorial regime that, through relentless censorship, restricts not only freedom of expression but even the conduct of daily life. The author of poetry filled with intense feeling that, in addition to charting intimate and personal memories, denounces the condition of women in her country, Galindo approaches art as a subsequent phase in her poetry. As in the investigations that characterize Body Art or Viennese Actionism, the artist uses her body as an essential part of her artistic language, and her performance actions
become a natural consequence of her expressive needs, as if her body were able to express her thoughts, in the most urgent and immediate manner. Walling herself up live in a room made of bricks, restraining herself in a straitjacket, whipping herself—the number of lashes equaling the number of women assassinated during the first six months in a year in Guatemala—are only some of her actions that, while struggling against a sense of humiliation and laying claim to a right to freedom and protest, reveal a mute sense of impotence.
In July 2003 the artist, holding a white basin filled with human blood, walked through the streets of Guatemala City, following a route that started at the Constitutional Court and ended at the National Palace. Frequently dipping her feet into the basin, she produced a veritable trail of blood winding through the pavements of the capital. An independent, personal path—as well as a memento of a strong act of violence—the work unfolded silently before the embarrassed or heedless eyes of passersby. ¿Quién puede borrar las huellas? (Who Can Erase the Traces?) was intended as an act of denunciation of the renewed presidential candidacy of deposed dictator and coup d’etat leader Efraín Ríos Montt,under whose government in the early 1980s civilians were subjected to unspeakable cruelty and slaughter.To protest his candidacy—mandated by the Constitutional Court—Galindo undertook this walk in memory of the victims of her country’s interminable civil war, tracing a path of blood and violence that, while destined to disappear from the streets, would leave, it was hoped, an indelible mark in the collective memory of the nation.