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Poulomi Desai

first performed on November 17, 2015
The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY
performed twice in 2015


New York, NY


“Searching for Abarca” is an ongoing series that seeks to acknowledge, unpack, and heal the trauma of my father’s, Jorge Magdaleno Abarca, absence. It is in relation to the disappeared students in Mexico, specifically the Ayotzinapa 43 who were abducted by the State Police in my father’s home state of Guerrero, Mexico, that I understand my father as my first, and longest, dance with the dead.

The first performance in this series, “Llueve Sobremojado (When it rains it pours)”, was performed at the Bronx Museum of the Arts as part of the Itinerant Performance Art Festival. The second performance “Script for Jorge” took place under the guidance of Karen Finley at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

“Llueve Sobremojado” is a performative response to the transcript of my first phone call to Mexico in search of my biological father which began the evening that Hurricane Patricia hit the southwestern coast of Mexico. I have never met my father nor do I know if he is alive. This performance marked the beginning of my public search. We gathered as if we were old friends seated on the floor during a sleep over. I opened the performance by mixing a soundscape of audio recordings from the evening that Patricia hit the southwest coast of Mexico. I began to eat a large pomegranate as if it were an apple repeating, “I AM FAR ENOUGH AWAY FROM THE BORDER. I AM FAR ENOUGH AWAY…”

Choking on the chalky flesh of the pomegranate, I attempted to read a message from my friend Vanessa Cuervo (Colombia) which she translated during my first call to Mexico. I then searched for my father online. Comparing a photo from Google to that of my father, I asked, “Are these two men related?” The audience survey results concluded: Yes (9), No (17), Abstention (2). I proceeded to ask if anyone in the audience knew Jorge Magdaleno Abarca. One women in the audience stated that she did know Jorge Abarca, stating that he had killed the Ayotzinapa 43 in Guerrero.

“Meanwhile a storm transforms into a Hurricane. I dial a set of digits, that connect her to Acapulco, that connect her to the disappeared. Numero equivocado— —no lo conozco — —no, número equivocado— How did I miss this connection? des- conectada. Their souls never lost connection.” (excerpt from Vanessa Cuervo)