In a work I started in 2019 at SOMA Summer in Mexico City, titled Mummy Issues Part I – I am not your Mummy I performed a series of public performances that I put on in Mexico City over the summer of 2019. Video documentation of the performance consists of a single fixed shot of me wrapping and unwrapping myself in packing tape like a mummy. In my latest presentation this past summer of 2021 I presented the video of myself repeating the performance in Veracruz as a dual channel, with a closeup and wide view.
The project’s title revealed an intended double meaning— considering mummies both as preserved dead humans/animals — and mummies as mothers. It also spoke of “mummy issues” — perhaps issues I have with my late mother. The refusal of not being a mummy in the second part of the title refers to a refusal for being a token mummy, the refusal of mummies in museums, and the refusal of being a mother to a child or mothering in other relationships.
Inspired by the ubiquitous sound of packing tape, heard frequently in downtown Mexico City as it is used to bandage, fix and wrap things for packing, and which I have heard almost yearly with my constant movement and displacements, I chose packing tape as the medium “that touches me” and as the method for my wrapping. I also chose it because of the difficulty removing it, a risky, and potentially harmful process as the X-acto knife came very close to my neck, my eyes and my face at the end of the performance. In this way, I wanted to speak of an attempt to access pain, of the pain of mummies — and undoing the binding, spoke of the refusal of the position of “owned resource” that mummies are expected to assume.
The locations in which I performed in 2019 were the Teotihuacan pyramid complex, the water fountain of the Museum of Anthropology, the Monument to the Mother and the Monument to the Indigenous People. This year I performed at the Monument to the Mother, the Monument to the Indigenous People which has a pyramidal structure, the cemetery and the Fuente de los Cántaros -- a fountain which depicts an indigenous woman with water flowing from two jugs she carries below her arms. Each of the locations I selected had a specific signification and relation to mummies as mothers or as archeological artefacts, and fossils.
I recently discovered the sculptural work by Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller Ethiopia Awakening from 1921 in which a Black woman is wrapped like a mummy from the waist down, but her upper torso aspires upward, suggesting rebirth from a long sleep. Though I was not aware of this work when making I am not your Mummy, I feel a continuity with its spirit.
In 2019 my friends Marwa Benhalim and Su Yu documented my performance with Super 8 film. In 2021, I was filmed by Montserrat Catteneo except at the Monument of the Mother where my friend Aarti Sunder did the camerawork. Supported by a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.