Antigone, diary of rituals

Lara, Venezuela 2012-2014

In the absence of burial rites when a loved one is disappeared by the state, how do those left behind cope with grief under conditions of political oppression and silence? Livia Daza-Paris
I am immensely grateful to the campesinos in Cocorote, Estado Lara, Venezuela for their support and spontaneous participation in these rituals. Heartfelt thanks to René Peralta, who coordinated access to the sites in Lara and introduced me to the communities.
This work was created with support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Alcaldía de Morán, Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Cultura de Venezuela and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Antigone, diary of rituals is a work of site-specific and poetic performativities, each lasting between 5 to 12 hrs that I captured in video—with the help of various people from the area, who never before had worked a video camera. These rituals metaphorically marked the land around my father's final route before he was politically disappeared in the late 1960s.
The title references Sophocles' Antigone, who defied the established power so that her dissident brother would have proper funeral rites. In a way, encouraged by Antigone's brave ethical actions, I went back to Venezuela from Canada, where I had lived nearly 20 years to do these metaphorical burial rites for my father Iván Daza to manifest a form of burial even though his remains continue to be disappeared. These works echo the feminist premise that "the personal is political." Indeed, from an autoethnographic perspective, this work began to then encounter an expansion into complex geopolitics and human rights.
Moving away from victimization perspectives, it delves instead into notions of self-determination. These videos document my quest through non-official history, memory, and land. From this project onwards, my approach to artmaking shifted into what I call Poetic Forensics, taking my practice into a complex web of investigative art-led research.
Many thanks to editors Alba Daza, Michael Poetschko and Xi Feng. For their thoughtful advice, many thanks to Michael Bowdidge and Jean Marie Casbarian. Special thanks to Roraima Ramos, production coordinator for the exhibition at the MAC Caracas. Finally, my gratitude to the artists and friends who generously attended to my request for 'Instructions to find my disappeared father'. This work is the result of merging my own interpretation with their guiding 'instructions.'
Antigone, diary of rituals N.1: White Thread and River Burial 2012
This ritual White Thread and River Burial began at the contact house where my father was last seen alive. From there, I traced with white oil paint his name over the bridge and made a trace connecting between one edge and the other.
Antigone, diary of rituals N.2: River Burial and Ridge of Silence 2012
Near the site, my father was disappeared by the anti-insurgency army, it was mystifying to learn the name of the place was The Ridge of Silence and to encounter that it was at once beautiful and eerie. Its waters were stagnant and silent, just like this unresolved story of disappearance.
Antigone, diary of rituals N.3: Crosses and White Fabric 2014
For the ritual Crosses and White Fabric, I had expected three men from the village to climb with me towards the place where the army ambush happened decades ago. To my surprise, many more came along—and with their kids! I asked: “Why have you come here?” One of them said: “Because we are looking for revolutionaries!”
Antigone, diary of rituals N.4: At the End, the Beginning 2014
This ritual, At the End, the Beginning, was created with the spontaneous help of Eliana, a girl from the valley of the town of Anzoátegui in Lara. Her playfulness and confident engagement allowed me to accomplish my last ritual: to bury myself in the place of my father.
Antigone, ritual after rituals: Campesino Blessings 2012
In this picture I am with Señor Solano Fonseca. For my last ritual, Sr. Fonseca bestowed on me a blessing with gestures made from his machete—an acknowledgement of our kinship and shared connections to this land.
Antigone, dairy of rituals has been presented at SBC Gallery, Montreal, 2022; A Space Gallery, Toronto, 2017; Currents New Media Festival, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2015; Sierra Nevada College, 2015; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas, 2014; Main Film, Montreal, 2013; and Atelierhof Kreuzberg, Berlin, 2012.
Sobre los pasos de Antígona 2014Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Caracas. Solo exhibitionHD video. single channel projected onto translucent clothVariable dimensions. Curated by Albeley RodríguezPhotos: Livia Daza-Paris
Antigone diary of rituals N.4 2017A Space Gallery, Grieving EmpireGroup juried exhibition. Toronto, CanadaPhotos: Livia Daza-Paris
Antigone diary of rituals N.1 2012Atelierhof Kreuzberg MFA exhibition. Berlin, GermanyPhotos: Livia Daza-Paris
For more information: Livia Daza-Paris, At the edge of the (far-) End: an event revealed through rituals. ELSE Journal for International Art and Creative Media. Issue 01. Published by Transart. Editor Teobaldo Lagos Preller. Peer-reviewed article. January 2016
Review by Albeley Rodriguez: La creación: un dolor trocado en vida vibrante Review by Constanza Rogatis: Space Gallery: