My work often deals with women’s stories and hand movements. Working Hands/Manos Trabajadoras is an on-going series of video portraits of the stories and daily routines of women who engage in repetitive manual labor at home and in the workplace. It was selected for a Fulbright US Scholar Award in Peru for the fall of 2011, focusing on women who migrate to the capital city of Lima to work as domestic workers and cooks. A precursor to Working Hands, in the series Rituals and Harina, I create video portraits of a Cuban mother and daughter doing their domestic chores, exposing the essence of their narratives in recognition of their importance in personal and cultural histories. The segment “Harina”, in particular, demonstrates the emotional impact and fear of a displaced person who goes into exile with a different language and cultural cues.
Two independent pieces, “Norma” and “A Mother’s Handbag” focus entirely on hand movements. “Norma” is about separation, endurance, and how human relationships reemerge. I ask Norma to tell me her love story during two manicure sessions. I juxtapose both recounts, and use the subtitles as a third interpretation. “A Mother’s Handbag,” a recorded performance and subsequently narrated video, is about a mother’s secrets and the attempts to reveal them through the objects found in her handbag and what participants handwrite about them.
I come from a family of custom dressmakers and knitters. I watched the movement of the women’s hands manipulating the needles and tightening the threads, the repetition of the stitches. Working Hands/Manos Trabajadoras is an extension of that experience and influence. I engage in one-on-one conversations with the women, observing their hands at work.
I am interested in contemporary art research based on social and cultural realities, fusing documentary modes with the visual arts, recontextualizing it into the realm of video installations.