Interdisciplinary Research in the
Social Sciences and Humanities
Latinx Research Center
University of California, Berkeley
Chochenyo Ohlone Unceded Land
Performance and Populism: mobilization, popular power and embodiments
an international conference online Nov 3-5, 2021
Amanda Pina Artist Presentation
During the Fall of 2021, students from UC Berkeley's Introduction to Performance Studies 26 were asked to create blog posts based on the Performance and Populism conference. The scholars were asked to analyze, share what they found intriguing, and participate in peer review.
The opportunity to hear about work such as Amanda Piña’s remarkable embodied art-based research is a gift felt deeply in my own body, in my bones, and in my body’s sense of creative source. She presented her multi-year, body-centered work as “encompassing not only contemporary shamanism, but also orally transmitted knowledge, social knowledge about the body, about movement and touch, about healing, about plants, about perception, about the interconnectedness of life forms, and about ritual diplomatic knowledge applied to the relationship with other beings” (Presentation description) There is a powerful force that lies in the body; wielding art through the body as a way to heal, resist, and create is activated in this work. I was thinking back to Ana Mendieta’s piece ‘Blood Signs/Body Tracks’ and the way she uses the same foundational elements; social knowledge about the body, movement and touch, perception, and the interconnectedness of life forms, to disrupt and decolonize dominant and destructive ways of social organization.An element particularly unique to Piña’s work is this idea of earth-centred rituals of reciprocity, embodied and repeated through the earth, back to the body, back to the nature again. Both Latina women, there is an interconnectedness in the way they use their own soma; skin, hair, belly, breath, their full body and being, to recreate and celebrate their own ritual and culture in a way that invites us to dream of a new kind of world, a world where the earth and our own body is connected, a world where we heal one another through that connectedness. As Mendieta says “I’m not interested in the formal qualities of my materials, but their emotional and sensual ones.. my art is the way I re-establish the bonds that unite me to the universe”(The Paris Review, 2019). This same sensuality, a earth-body-universe bondedness, was what I found so rich in Piña’s world; the inclusion of this planet; the mountains, rivers, oceans, and her work is intended to remind our bodies that we are a part of this world, nature’s world. When I consider this interconnectedness through the acts of embodied and intentional movements, both of these women are radical in the way they allow their own bodies to be the conduit by which we enter these new spaces of knowing, understanding, and loving the world around me. The epistemological power of these two artists is astoundingly deep and nuanced, using performance as a way to not just inform us about ourselves, but to mobilize our bodies to know that we have the power to create a new world of earth-body reciprocity.