Poetry News

Brenda Iijima on 'Puerto Rico,' a Recent Performance by Lara Mimosa Montes

By Harriet Staff
Lara Mimosa Montes

Entropy presents Brenda Iijima's reportage after witnessing a performance work by Lara Mimosa Montes–author of The Somnambulist–in the Thinking Its Presence Conference in Tucson, Arizona, this October. "After brief opening remarks," writes Iijima, "Lara set her laptop on 'Puerto Rico,' a disco-salsa-funk groove from 1982 by Decoupage and within the rush of lively rhythm she performed the catastrophic aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico." It continues:

...Dire, tumultuous and revelatory, refusing elegy, refusing memorializing gesture Lara transformed herself into the force of the storm. She engaged her body as conduit, drawing us immediately to the site of suffering and abandonment as Puerto Rico experiences a humanitarian crisis of vast proportions. Her dance was a raging love letter to Puerto Rico. As of today (10/24/2017) 3 1⁄2 million Puerto Ricans are without power, over one million residents lack clean drinking water, food and all provisions are in short supply and the Environmental Protection Agency has not yet inspected five out of 18 of Puerto Rico’s toxic waste sites. To compound the misery, the island is 74 billion dollars in debt, ever-presently bullied by vulture capitalists and continually chided, insulted and ignored by the stateside president who enjoys rubbing wounds while maintaining systematic inequity.

Lara danced biopolitical entanglement up against the self. Contingent desires flickered. Pride and defiance wrapped around the subject of transculturation. She swirled, gyrated, and spasmed to the propulsive beat of a song that declares its situatedness. The apex of the choreography involved agitated centrifugal motion that centered her torso as eye of the storm, flushing out power relations in her body, the movement of violent winds and adjacent, the fury of disaster capital all merging as she gyrated. The midriff, the grinding, the unrelenting feeling in the gut. This language from the Weather Channel today relates: “The storm underwent bombogenesis, meaning that it rapidly intensified, increasing the strength of winds near the center.” Her body became the collective body of a culture caught in a struggle of sovereignty and ecological disaster. A femme performance of body vulnerability and strength recalls gendered violence of body and earth, nature, also being gendered female. What does this really mean that “nature” is “gendered” “female”? It is a core question of eco-cultural concern... 

Read on at Entropy.