The Mexicali Biennial at the Vincent Price Museum of Art is in its final week. If you do make it out, there are a couple of standouts: one is Zoe Gruni’s Cannibal (featured in my prior photo essay), a sculpture that seems to take the notion of the beach blond and stick it in the blender. This is no beautiful ideal, it’s a total monster — a good piece to hang out and look at for a while.
The second is Carolyn Castaño’s El Reporte femenil/The Feminine Report, above, done in collaboration with Gary Dauphin. The video is interesting for a number of reasons. There’s the presentation, which perfectly captures the glib tone of most TV newscasters. There’s also the choice of historical subject matter: a pre-Columbian-to-the-present-array of Latin American women, covering the range from warrior types to political figures to cuchi cuchi mamitas.
But what’s most remarkable is the language: Castaño completely shreds the most natural ways of speaking Spanglish, then rebuilds them into something that sounds almost foreign. In my experience, Spanglish is generally spoken in one of three ways: English structure with Spanish words thrown in (Do you want a cerveza?); Spanish structure with English words thrown in (ya estoy harta de tanto bullshit); starting a thought in one language, then finishing it in another (Cuando llegue tu primo, we’re all going to dinner).
She chops the two languages up even more: going back and forth between structures in a rapid-fire way, which makes for a lot of unfamiliar patterns to the ear. Sample sentence:
La Venus, a fertility symbol, símbolo de la fertilidad of beauty and sexuality. Raquel Welch, 1,000,000 Years BC, de la belleza y sexualidad. Antes de Cristo, of Bolivian descent. Si, una chola.”
Certainly, the words she uses (which are more like poetry than speech) adds to the effect — making this a real trip to listen to.