Saturday, April 18, 2015


Ana Mendieta, Rock Heart with Blood, still from Super 8, color, silent film, 1975

Like a person in an ancient pose, I lean in an L-shaped posture over the counter: flat back, rump displayed to any passer-by, blood dripping down the back of my thighs. They don’t see me. I clean the street until all that’s left is a ring of oily foam, the formal barrier of a bad snow. Are you sick and tired of running away?
Then lie down. 
         -Banhu Kapil, Ban en Banlieue

Bhanu Kapil’s Ban en Banlieue is a meditation on what has perished, flesh discarded and pressing heavy onto the ground, meat received by the earth that produces a mark, a stain. There is a separation, a loss, something which was born dead. A still-birth. Ban.

Ban is like MacabĂ©a in Lispector’s Hour of the Star, a tragic woman whose narrative is infected by the throbbing of an exposed nerve, a girl who dances alone to the radio, who swallows paper to satiate her hunger for red beef. What is that paper? A book? Bibliophagy? (Bibliophagy: a disorder where a person compulsively eats books, compulsive eating of books, feelings of relief upon eating books, reduced anxiety brought on by eating books.)

For Kapil it is bibliomancy. Putting her finger down into Dictee. Finding Cha and Ban and Ana. The image of the drowned woman floats between the pages, down onto the street, onto the butcher block. The body of the girl, violated and left for dead in a New Delhi street “She lay on the ground for 40 minutes—twitching—making low sounds—then none at all—diminishing—before anyone called the police.”

Ana Mendieta, Untitled (Rape Scene), April 1973

From the court proceedings of the Theresa Cha rape and murder trial:
November 5th, 1982 At 7:15 p.m., Police Officer Brennan responded to a call for an investigation of a parking lot on Elizabeth Street, which is located about 10 or 15 minutes by car from the office building in which defendant worked. At the parking lot, the officer found the body of Mrs. Cha. Her pants and underwear were down around her knees, she had only one boot on and there was blood on the back of her head. Her wedding ring was missing as well as her purse and wallet, but her Timex wristwatch was still in place.

A shaft of her black hair, a dead piece more dead as it is carried away on the sole of a shoe. She is dismembered in the slowest possible way. Bit by bit. You can’t even notice it.

Bhanu Kapil, Performance for Ban at Pratt Institute, New York, April, 2013

To dream that one’s hair is falling out.
To dream that all one’s teeth are falling out.
To dream that one is being saved.
To dream that one is being nursed.
To dream that one is very dirty.
To dream that one is dissolving.
To dream that one is in mourning, as shown by the hair.
To dream that one is being beaten, beaten on the neck, up to the ears and around the face…

-From A List of Bad Dreams Chanted as a Cause & Cure for Missing Souls (Bidayuh, Sarawak) Technicians of the Sacred, edited by Jerome Rothenberg