INTERVIEW TO REGINA JOSÉ GALINDO
I believe in the potential of art to generate interaction and debate.
I believe in the ability of art to question, break the order, to create action.
I believe that art is a space of freedom, one of the last spaces we have today.
I believe in the incendiary quality of art and the innate ability of my hand to generate a spark.
Regina José Galindo
Elisa Muscatelli – How would you describe your research to a first-time audience?
Regina José Galindo – I am a poet and a visual artist and I have been investigating the field of performance a lot over the last twenty years.
EM – Without considering the legitimization of the gesture given by the artistic institution, what do you think characterizes a performance from a common and public gesture?
RJG – I believe that what distinguishes an everyday gesture from a performative one is the intentionality of the act.
EM – I quote from your interviews: “The danger is not that our consciousness falls asleep, the danger is that there is no one or nothing to wake us up”. Do you think that performance has, more than other mediums, this power of awareness? How did the choice to use the body rather than less personal mediums come about?
RJG – No I don’t think performance has any more power than other mediums, and its power comes from the things said and the way they are conveyed, and it depends on the artist, the medium used, and the tools.
EM – You have often included “fear” in your work. Today we talk more and more about the sense of fear and its implications – individual, social and political – linked to the pandemic. What meaning do you attribute to the concept of ‘fear’ today?
RJG – Personally, fear is a force that paralyzes me, it’s an emotion, a protective reflex because initially, it paralyzes us, and right then it’s as if there is a moment of pause that allows us to see things from other perspectives, to gain strength and face these adverse situations, so I think fear is somehow positive because it’s an emotion that allows us to breathe and to take courage if it doesn’t block us permanently, fear for me is positive.
EM – In many of your works, the natural element and the dynamics of power and exploitation that revolve around nature are central. Do you think that art can play a role in the debate on environmental policies and sustainable development? What is your relationship with nature?
RGJ – I believe that art is a space that allows us to confront each other, and it is a space for artists to be heard, so I believe that art is an instrument to be able to discuss any issue that concerns human development and the improvement of life. Today, 31 January, for example, Bernardo Caal, an activist Guatemalan is serving 3 years of torture in prison for the defense of natural resources, in particular for the defense of the Cahabón River, against a Spanish company. I am an artist and I use this space that you have given me and I respond using this space of art and in this way, I show that yes, I consider art to be a space to discuss environmental issues.
EM – We conclude by asking which has been for your historical, literary, or cinematographic reference that everyone should know and has had a significant impact on the development of your artistic and personal career
RGJ – I suppose that as a Guatemalan, the major influences have come from people, intellectuals, activists, men, and women that during the war, the armed conflict in Guatemala, through their expression and their struggle, marked the path and opened the doors for us to imagine and dream of a possible and different future. One of these important personalities is Luis De Lión, and is his book “Los Zopilotes y Su segunda muerte”. He disappeared in 1982 at the hands of State forces, after several days of torture he was executed by the army and his body was never found.
I will read you a fragment of a story from “Los zopilotes”.
“The sweat ran down his face like a small river for a moment his legs were trembling, and he was panting, but the anguish pushed him on, it wasn’t long now. The lights of the ranch could already be seen, he changed his pace and advanced with long, hurried steps, he was tired, but the anguish overtook him again, and he made an effort, another, and again – “Stop! Stop!” – an armed man was catching up with him, he wanted to run away, but was stopped by the aggressive tone of the man who stepped out of the shadows.”