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14 - Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz—Tapping into a Legacy of Body and Effort to Level the Playing Field by Vivian Liddell

Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz on the legacy of body and effort in her performance art:

So here I am at Skowhegan—all of a sudden—you can use your body to tell a story!? But I thought artists only drew on pad and paper? You’re not an artist if you’re not using, you know, canvas or paper. Wait a minute, you can do that? Awww shit! Here we go! And it felt like an avenue opened up… I was able to use my body to make other work.

When I was there I had a strange interaction with a woman—who ended up being, you know, I would consider her a friend—but this interaction around hand washing underwear and then hanging them in the shower. That’s something my mother taught us to do and then it ended up being like this weird class thing. And so then I started thinking. I started drawing connections— between the idea of washing your clothes by hand in the shower as a way to sort of always maintain kind of clean underwear because you don’t have much—to this connection to my mother. To her growing up without literacy. To her. To the stories that she told me about having to wash clothes in the river and having to go to the creek and gathering firewood. And cooking on stones... she grew up post-Depression Puerto Rico. Illiterate, in the hills, no money, poor. …All of a sudden, I was like ok-there’s a reason. The hand washing is bigger than just keeping a clean pair of panties. There’s a legacy. There’s a legacy of body and effort. … In some strange way, I’m trying to connect to this history, to this legacy.

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