In Raspado, using a tool for making Mexican snow cones, she calls for the abolishment of ICE through a repetitive deliberate gesture, shaving away at a solid 50-pound block of ice for 3.5 hours. The physical implications of this exertion remain largely undocumented in the video, though the blood, sweat, scrapes, and aches are easily inferred. “My parents immigrated to California in the 70s from a small town outside of Guadalajara, Mexico,” Turrado reflects, “so that unborn us (my siblings and I) didn’t have to grow up breaking our backs like they did.”
Tiling nine asynchronous frames of action, she crafts an audiovisual cacophony, a dizzying accumulation of street sounds and curious strangers set against a relentlessly rhythmic scraping.
The final piece in the series is Mending, in which she sews back together bisected sheep hearts. Sheep because of its proximity to the size of a human heart. Wielding a needle and twine with tremendous care, four halves become whole again, yet never quite what they once were. Turrado incorporates organic material into her practice with a mind for no waste. What remains of the meat from this series is still in her freezer — a special treat awaiting her canine companions: Angie, the 14-year-old Chihuahua boss and Casper, an 8-year-old Husky/Shepherd mix.
During a recent artist talk for Yellow Fish, Turrado opens the space with, “We will never have this moment in time together again.” She takes the video call outside, against a tree-lined park horizon dipping gently into a Los Angeles dusk. In a refreshing stray from convention, she insists on not sharing her screen — “I don’t want to take myself that seriously” — instead inviting participants to bask in a few precious moments of shared silent awkwardness before getting started. (Turrado enjoys the amplification of monotony.) Over the next hour, the virtual audience gleans snippets about how her search to exorcise emotion through bodily movement while distilling an idea to its essence ultimately draws her to the mental and physical endurance of durational performance. “I’m interested in how time affects space and energy, how the accumulation of the past, which only exists in body/mind memory now, affects the present. It’s an exploration in the ephemeral process of the space between: the space between action, the space between breath, the space between thought.”
This betweenness may feel familiar to first-generation makers and doers carrying the responsibility, as children of immigrants, to see the rights and gifts and lives of immigrants honored, celebrated, and remembered.
Turrado’s work has a way of rattling and reorienting the senses toward a core truth, what was out of focus a moment ago suddenly painfully clear. In preparation for the final installment of Yellow Fish, she is actively producing three new video works to accompany Raspado in an installation that will house a live 12-hour performance starting at 12:01am on May 29.
Yellow Fish Festival participants will actualize their physical performances inside 153 COFFEY, a multidisciplinary, artist-led studio in Red Hook, New York dedicated to exploring the dramatic potential of constructed space through performance, film, and design. For those unable to attend the limited-access live performance, a three-hour segment will be broadcast as a virtual livestream.
Photo credits: Stefany Turrado