Divine Horsemen: Canaan to Cane
related performance: En tu boca pongo mi dulzor.
"zombie" makeup by Anabel Vázquez
objects: sugarcane (with "Paid" sticker), small machete, sharpening tool, rock of salt
The performance title combines: Maya Deren's research on Vodoun in Haiti (the terminology of which describes the Haitian Loas as "mounting" their human subjects like a horse and rider); the supposed justification for prejudice based on skin tone found within the Biblical story of Noah's "Curse of Ham"; and the 1950 film From Cane To Cube, a delicate portrayal of sugar production from Jamaica to London via the Tate and Lyle company--to call it "sugar coated" would be an understatement.
Throughout the performance, I am pointing to gaps in our collective memories regarding the origins of the Zombie archetype. Simple visual cues embedded within my "diseased"-looking makeup will trigger familiar representations of the modern Zombie, while my actions, and the video playing behind me, suggest that some forgotten history related to Caribbean sugar plantations is being unearthed. In emotionally detached, machine-like gestures, I proceed to cut and chew a large cane of sugar (sharing a few pieces with audience members), while Anabel Vázquez holds an 8lb rock of salt directly over my head. In the original Haitian mythology, the curse of eternal bondage for a worker on the cane fields, can only be lifted by the consumption of much sought-after, well-seasoned food. The rock of salt, hanging tantalizingly close to me throughout the piece, is meant to represent the ongoing interferences (whether economic, political, or militaristic) of imperial character, which maintain the Caribbean region in various states of unnecessary foreign dependency--where a few licks of the rock are not enough to cause the unwelcome colonial spirit to "dismount".