Seguridad Casera Performance and Intervention at MMCA Seoul - December 2019
Seguridad Casera (Home Security) is an artistic response to the inquiries stated by the artist’s research proposal as an MMCA International Research Fellow. The research, a cross-cultural comparative study between South Korea and Paraguay, is framed conceptually by writings on the post-colonial, exotification, marginality and subaltern studies. Through this performance piece the artist acknowledges the difficulties in attempting a balanced cross-cultural study between two wildly dissimilar countries. One such difficulty has been described by post-colonial writers who recognize their role in legitimizing marginal products as akin to hawking exotic non-Western wares to a Western metropolitan audience. As Huggan wrote, how “do post-colonial writers/thinkers contend with neocolonial market forces” in the “global late capitalist system in which these discourses circulate and are contained?”
Seguridad Casera posits a conversation between two women, one from Paraguay and one from South Korea. It is not what these two women say that is most relevant, but where the conversation takes place and how the women converse. The action begins when the artist intervenes the furniture at the scene with cement and broken glass (from discarded bottles gathered from the streets). She makes use of an anti-climb measure commonly seen in third-world countries: glass shards set in mortar atop walls. This anti-climb measure is low cost and generally implemented by the homeowners at very low cost. (In more affluent neighborhoods electric fences with industrial barbs are installed, though at a higher price.) Mirroring this amateur security practice, the artist lines the tabletop with glass shards. Afterwards, she invites her counterpart to share a seat at the table with her. The two hold a conversation about curatorial practices, comparing and contrasting their experiences and backgrounds. The artist serves mate tea across the glass shards. They drink as they talk, passing the guampaback and forth carefully, lest they cut themselves on the glass. The conversation is natural and unrehearsed, but the context is tense and unsustainable for more than a short time.
The performance also addresses a feminist issue. The title Home Security references the domestic divide in traditional gender roles. It raises the question of protection and of what a woman might have to protect. It is a common association, based on societal assumptions of gender, that a woman would protect her home, her body, and the virtue placed on her body, specifically her sex. On the other hand, if the subject were male, protection would not be associated to his sex or to an honor associated with that sex. What, then, is the artist protecting? Or rather, whom is she protecting it from?
If the anti-climb measure is used to keep unwanted people out of a space, who are unwanted in the conversation between the two women? It is an exchange that attempts to happen outside of a Western-centric paradigm. At the same time, the artist recognizes that it is not enough to have two non-Western actors at the conversation. The discourse itself is set in a Western-centric structure and mined with colonialist fallacies; these are the glass shards that surround the two women.