María Evelia Marmolejo, Anónimo 4, 1982,
photo: Paco Cuesta
María Evelia Marmolejo
Anónimo 4

According to the Colombian scholar María Iovino, in 1981 María Evelia Marmolejo (*1958 Colombia) created the first feminist performance art piece in Colombia "11 de Marzo" (March 11th), an action with menstrual blood. A graduate of visual arts from Instituto Departamental de Bellas Artes in Cali, Marmolejo was influenced by the body art movement of the 1970s. Her ritualistic performances "Anónimos 1, 2 y 4" (Anonymous 1, 2 and 4, 1981-82) involve self-mutilation and psychophysical experimentations with organic matters such as blood, human placentas, urine and earth. Her practices often have a healing aspect and involve medical paraphernalia such as gauze, adhesive bandages and menstrual pads. Marmolejo’s production of strong imagery evokes and responds to Colombia’s recent and past history. In "America" (1985), performed at Plaza Colón, Madrid, Spain, Marmolejo proposed an act of mourning for the 500th anniversary of the ‘discovery’ of the Americas, thus reminding the death of 64 million Native Americans between ‘the conquest’ and colonial times.

Standing inside a triangular-shaped hole dug on the earth, surrounded by three smaller triangles filled with ‘residual waters’, María Evelia Marmolejo wrapped her body with plastic straps holding bits of human placentas taken from women who had given birth during the days and in the cities where the piece was being performed (Cali and Guayaquil). Marmolejo described this as “a psychological and sociological act of self exploration about the fear of being born in a society where the option to survive is not guaranteed. These reflections generated in me physiological involuntary reactions such as vomiting and crying.”

Performance: 1982, Banks of the Cauca River, Colombia
Video: Juan Carlos Velasquez and José Dorado

Performance: 1982, Banks of the Guayas River, Ecuador
Photography: Paco Cuesta

Courtesy María Evelia Marmolejo

Document media
Video, b&w, sound, 5:22 min / photographs

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extended body, flesh, maternity, ritual, sexual violence, public space