“Recreación del trayecto de los golpistas” (2019) is a performance and installation that took place on the 30th anniversary of the military coup that ousted General Alfredo Stroessner, ending his military dictatorship in Paraguay. As the title suggests, the work recreates the route that tanks took from a military command center in Luque and through Asunción, passing in front of such key logistical places as the home of Stroessner’s mistress, “Ñata” Legal, the Police Hospital Rigoberto Caballero, an infantry regiment base, the Presidential Guards’ Headquarters, and ending in the city historical center. I sat in the back of a white Isuzu pick-up truck, the very kind of of trucks the national police use today. During the two hours’ slow drive, with blinkers on, I played popular Paraguayan songs on a harp. Beside me there was an installation piece that resembled a devotional offering commonly seen in Catholic ceremonies or funerary processions, made with plastic white flowers and wax. At the end of the drive we veered off the tanks’ route, ending the work in front of the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, dedicated to victims of the dictatorship. There I set the installation on the ground, set it on fire with a cigarette, and continued playing my harp. As the date was San Blas’ Day (February 3rd), I played Galopera (traditionally associated with this saint). Coco Fusco points out in "Corpus Delecti" that, as a generalization, Latin American performance artists reference rituals and religions in order to create corporeal gestures: “The Catholic concept of the body as a receptacle of the Divine Spirit, and the many rituals of submission of that religion (...), functions as a conceptual backdrop and social subtext for many Latin American performers.” “Recreación” draws not only from the military coup, but also from religious processions of saints and virgins and funerary convoys that accompany a coffin to the cemetery. The female figure is engaged in a traditional cultural expression - polca music. In this sense she resembles Nero, in the ahistorical myth where he played his lyre while Rome burned. The coup was a secret mission known to only a few. As it unfolded, an unknown number of people were killed, either in direct confrontation to the coup soldiers or as crossfire casualties. As it was a Saturday night, many people were out of their homes, in bars, on the streets and in dancing clubs. There was a concert in the nearby town of Itá, with superstars Argentine Sergio Denis and Mexican Luis Miguel. Phone lines were cut and a single radio channel updated the sequence of events. Confusion reigned as people were unable to alert one another about the violence in Asunción. Sunday dawned on city streets stained with blood, pocked with bullet holes, and littered with detritus and gunned down bodies. This was the brutal introduction to democracy in Paraguay. The casualties of this coup are the subjective violence that jumps to the fore. The objective violence is more complex; it involves the secrecy and misinformation that, on one hand, enabled the coup organizers’ success and, on the other hand, guaranteed a high number of innocent victims. They are precisely “the catastrophic consequences of the smooth functioning of our economic and political systems” (Zizek, "Violence"). Secrecy and misinformation are key components of Paraguayan politics. They create an aura around policy- and decision-making, akin to a religious ceremony, devoid of the transparency that is essential to true democracy. This is necessary for power and authority, as well as wealth and land, to remain in the hands of a few. Paraguay never underwent an overhaul of its government, which would have ensured that the military dictatorship was truly ousted. As a result, the current president as of 2022, Mario Abdo Benítez, is the son of the former private secretary to General Stroessner and member of his closest entourage, nicknamed Cuatrinomio de Oro. A cultivated consequence of this political climate is a state of constant doubt and uncertainty. This is an element of “Recreación.” The work retains a measure of ambiguity as a mechanism of preemptive action against censorship. Is the performance a celebratory act, satire or denouncement? Even today the coup anniversary is a sensitive date in Paraguay, a factor I took into account when planning the performance. The final meta-phenomenon of burning the installation creates a climatic release and, as da Costa Barbosa suggests, “recreates violence while opening a space to reflect on its impact and productivity.” This space allows for a Brechtian Verfremdungseffekt necessary for critical self-reflection and contemplation.
ESP "Recreación del Trayecto de los Golpistas" (2019) comienza frente a la ex Caballería, desde donde salieron los tanques de los golpistas el 2 de febrero de 1989. Recorre el mismo trayecto, pasando frente al Hospital Rigoberto Caballero y al Regimiento de Infantería No. 14. Se desvía brevemente del camino original para pausar frente al Museo de las Memorias, donde invita a la audiencia a participar de la acción como cortejo con un gesto final ardiente. La obra hace referencia a procesiones religiosas, como el de la Virgen de Caacupé, y a escoltas funerarias.
Una instalación viaja en la carrocería de un camión fletero, decorado con guirnaldas, velas artificiales y palmas. Una figura de cera montadas sobre soportes de metal hace referencia a “los Carlos y los Víctor,” los actores principales del golpe militar que hace 30 años derrocaban a Stroessner. Estos actores suplantaron las historias menos conocidas de personajes que accionaron contra la dictadura en capacidades no oficiales, usurpando el mérito como únicos responsables por acabar con la dictadura.
La artista ejecuta el arpa en la carrocería, como Nerón tocaba el violín mientras Roma quemaba. Mientras los golpistas recorrían las calles de Asunción, gran parte de la ciudad permanecía desinformada, situación exacerbada por el bloqueo telefónico. En Itá Luis Miguel cantaba en concierto y en la capital se bailaba en celebraciones de San Blas. Las balas tomaron por sorpresa a varios. Este bloqueo de información persiste hasta hoy en día; aún no se sabe cuántas bajas realmente hubo.
La obra es por naturaleza ambigua. ¿Es crítica o celebración, una mistificación de los que protagonizaron el golpe, una expresión de duelo, o una simple conmemoración? Transita por la ciudad y simultáneamente a través de ondas de frecuencias que transmiten su imagen en vivo al Museo. Transeúntes son audiencia espontánea, espectadores en el Museo son una meta-audiencia. Ambos son incorporados en los pliegues de esta obra participativa.