Thursday, August 10, 2006

Desconocida - Unknown - Ukjent

Desconocida - Unknown - Ukjent

Almost once a week in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, a woman or teen-aged girl simply disappears. Every thirteen days, a woman or girls’s corpse is left, naked, dumped outside. Many bear evident signs of torture and rape. For over a decade this has been the way of life in this border town. Though by some informed estimates
more than a thousand women have been murdered and an additional twelve hundred women and girls are counted missing, the crimes continue unabated.

To focus the world’s attention on these femicides, The Station Museum of Contemporary Art, in Houston, Texas, has dedicated their upcoming exhibition, Frontera 450+,opening Oct 21st, to the Women of Juárez, inviting artists to reflect on the situation.

My contribution is the installation Desconocida Unknown Ukjent, a work made up of hundreds of small labels, hand embroidered with each of the dead and missing young woman ‘s names. To greatly increase the number of counties informed of the atrocities, I have asked citizens, mainly women, in over a dozen countries worldwide to contribute, gathering in small groups to discuss the situation in Juárez while embroidering onto labels the names of the dead and missing women.

My intention with this project have been to set women’s fight on the agenda through a typical female activity, embroidering. Embroidery is an intimate and time consuming activity. Also, historically, to embroider names onto labels was done for the loved ones.

In this project women’s traces are crossing. Visually the embroidered label contains traces of the woman embroidering through her handwriting, her choice of colors, stitches etc. I also believe the dead woman’s name has left a trace with the embroiderer through the time and care she had to use in order to embroider, and by simultaneously hearing these women’s stories.
Through audio tape I am collecting all the voices participating.
The embroidered labels and the audio tape will be sent back to me.

I am engaged in the strength in women’s fight, and specially the strength in the mother’s fight in Juárez. Through their organizing and untiring fight for justice and worthiness, the world got to know and can support them. The women in Juárez have been described as voiceless. They are not. Women are not. Expression for strength and courage can be expressed without words, using precisely the voice.

I hope to include a performance and a sound piece with the installation, based on the voices of the participants in this project.

Participants in following countries as of August 31st:
Australia, Argentina, Costa Rica (2 groups), Denmark, Finland, Iran, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway( 8 groups spread out throughout the country), Philippines (2 groups), Spain, Sweden (2 groups), United Kingdom (2 groups), United States (Alaska, Kentucky, New Mexico, Texas (3 groups))

About the Women of Juárez:

For more than a decade, the cities of Chihuahua and Juárez, near the US-Mexican border, have been killing fields for young women, the site of more than 400 unsolved femicides. Despite the horrific nature of these crimes, authorities at all levels exhibit indifference, and there is strong evidence that some officials may be involved. Impunity and corruption have permitted the criminals
to continue committing these acts, knowing there will be no consequences.

A significant number of victims work in the maquiladora sector —
sweatshops that produce for export with 90% destined for the
United States. The maquiladoras employ mainly young women at
poverty-level wages, amassing tremendous wealth. Yet, despite the crime
wave, they offer almost no protection for their workers.

The women found dead and abused are mostly teenagers
between thirteen and seventeen years of age.
Hundreds other young missing women are thought to have been kidnapped for trafficking. Since most are from rural areas and are living away from home (often without frequent communication with their families), their disappearance may go unnoticed for some time.

Name of the museum:
Station Museum 1502 Alabama Houston, TX 77004


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