Within the Ashes (2013) by Adriana Corral

Within the Ashes (2013) is a performance-installation by Adriana Corral that mourns and denounces the terrible wave of femicides plaguing Ciudad Juárez since the 1990s.

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Adriana Corral, Within the Ashes, installation/performance, image stills from performance video and installation final view. 2013. Aerial map view of Ciudad Juarez, with marked sites of found mass graves, ashes from burned paper lists of victims’ names mixed with red powder pigment, dimensions vary. Images courtesy of the artist.

And here’s Adriana’s description of her piece.

Expanding my research, I began to look at areal map views of the 2002 Cotton Field femicide case that in turn led me to research and locate four other areas where mass graves of women were found throughout the city of Juarez. These locations are named Lomas de Poleo, Cerro Bola, Zacate Blanco, Lote Bravo and the one that I am currently working on “Campo Algodón.” Typing the names of the victims from each of the locations I burned the printed pages in a ritual manner.

With the cremation burial plot in mind I created an aerial map view of Juárez with the ashes. Most times I feel as if I am working from a distance and this installation/performance depicted that exactly. In the installation I am looking from a distance paying attention to the geography of where five main mass graves were found. Mapping out where the first mass grave was found I mark this spot with pieces of black tape forming an X. I proceeded to mark the location of each mass grave site in the same manner. I then sift a layer of ashes onto the aerial map view shape leaving only one X exposed. As I clear any accumulated ash from the X, I feel as if I am making the sign of the cross as I stroke my finger across it. Each time I reach this step I gently dusted and “blessed” the marked X. I sift red dried pigment over the X representing the blood shed of victims found in the mass graves. After marking the first mass grave I swept up the ashes and red powder pigment and then preceded to layout the second layer of ashes that are subtlety tinted. When I laid out the second layer of ashes on the next X mark, the viewer begins to see how the red is slowly filtering through the ashes and becoming another tint of red. After sweeping up the second layer, I continue with the third layer of ashes spreading them throughout and once more adding the red pigment at the grave site mark. With each added layer the viewer can see how slowly, yet pervasively the red pigment spreads into the ashes. As this ground became infiltrated with the red, the viewer can then perceive the reality of the actual bloodshed infiltrating different locations of the city. Many times the murdered victims are found in mass graves yet also at times randomly scattered. As I spread the fourth and fifth layer of ashes and red pigment, the comparison of red ash to red blood becomes self-evident.

There is a lack of justice and persecution when it comes to the individuals committing these crimes. This implies the city is plagued with injustice and is consumed with the widespread spree of fear and murders. Just as the red pigment became self- revealing within the ashes, the obvious truth of these violent crimes struggles to reveal itself to be heard and seen. Threats of fear are made to cover up and suppress the truth and even drown out the unspoken words of victims and voices of their families.

Excerpt from Adriana Corral’s thesis report, “In Search of a Voice,” The University of Texas at Austin, 2013), 17–19.

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