Antigone, diary of rituals N.3: Crosses and White Fabric

Lara, Venezuela 2012-2014

Antigone, diary of rituals N.3: Crosses and White Fabric 2012-2014 Lara, VenezuelaHD video, audio, single-channel, split-screen 11:56Camera: Livia Daza-Paris, Oscar TorresEditors: Xi Feng, Alba Daza
Antigone, diary of rituals N.3: Crosses and White Fabric is part of a series of site-specific physical poems marking the land in rural Lara State, Venezuela. They commemorate the disappearances, including of my own father, caused by state violence in the 1960s during the insurgency movement. These rituals transform isolated mourning into a public activity as gestures of care across time and make claims to non-official history.
This work was created with support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Alcaldía de Morán, Lara; Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Cultura de Venezuela, the Canada Council for the Arts and the campesinos of Cocorote.

Diary entry—May 20, 2012

Crosses and White Fabric was a spontaneous ritual-participatory action and poetic intervention with the campesinos* from the hamlet of Cocorote. We began going up the mountain at 7:00 am, early enough to avoid the insects that come out at the heat of noon. We tried to find the site near the 'Zanjón del Silencio' (Ridge of Silence) where Iván Daza, my father, and Paramaconi were attacked by the Venezuelan army and disappeared. While there, I was told that this event took place on January 23, 1966. Certainty of this information remains unclear. By creating 'gestures of care' for the politically disappeared, we intervened in this history of state violence.
For the ritual, I brought a bolt of white fabric, 100 meters long, to mark the site. Unbeknownst to me, the campesinos brought two hand-forged metal crosses to honour the dead.
In truth, I had only expected three men to come along with me to the mountain; instead, eleven men, three boys and a driver from the hamlet of Cocorote in a big old truck showed up. As we climbed up, the campesinos opened a path with their machetes so that we could approach the ambush site. We only came near it. They said they had seen bullet marks on the mountain's stones and trees. No one has tried to come up here since the 1960s. I asked the campesinos, "Why have you come up here with me?" One of them replied: "Because… we are looking for revolutionaries!"

*In Latin America, the term campesino usually refers to peoples of Indigenous and African origin that live on parcels of land, often working for a landlord.
My heartfelt thanks to the campesinos in Cocorote, especially to Oscar Torres for his additional in-situ camera work —even though he had never handled a video camera before; to José Daniel Escalona—the boy performing spontaneously with the banner and shadows and making the task of carrying the crosses his own. To Arnaldo Escalona and Señor Solano Fonseca for their wisdom, generosity and leadership in this ritual-participatory action. Finally, my immense gratitude to René Peralta as a carrier of the oral history of these significant events, for organizing support and for creating a bridge of connections.

Images of ritual participatory action near the ambush site. Cocorote, Lara, Venezuela, 2012

Photos: Livia Daza-Paris, Oscar Torres
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: