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How do we perform grief?
On the last day of the year, the Ecuadorian New Year celebration sees its citizens erecting bonfires to collectively burn effigies made of discarded clothes, wood shavings, and paper maché. These Año Viejos symbolize the end of the year that is to be destroyed, and on their ashes to begin a new day. The exact history of the Año Viejos has been lost to time and colonization. What remains of our culture is an embodied knowledge, a series of rituals that persist without written history.
In the spring of 2020, hospitals in the city Guayaquil, Ecuador became overcrowded due to the then-emerging Covid-19 pandemic. With no room in the hospitals, the government took on an emergency action and began to burn the bodies of the dead on the streets.
I return to Ecuador every New Year for the celebrations. On January 3rd, 2023, I performed this grief ritual under the context of memory.
The videos on view are documentation from the endurance performance that took place in the coastal town of Playas, Ecuador. The performance, named Año Nuevo (2023), saw me return to my ancestral lands. There, I burned one Año Viejo every hour for 24 consecutive hours. Through this act which recalled my childhood, I embody the memories of those left behind, the land I left and continue to grieve, the labor of grief, and the passage of time.
This performance is dedicated to my brother, who was among the millions who passed in 2020
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