CUCUMBERS EN LAS MAÑANITAS
My work is often called a form of activism because some of my performances share Mexican customs. While Mexican history causes resentment within the United States, I share my Mexican heritage now for fear it will be outlawed in the future. For instance, in the state of Arizona, Mexican history is banned in schools.
In my performance “Cucumbers en las Mañanitas,” I share how to prepare a simple Mexican snack: peeled and diced cucumbers with lemon, salt, and cayenne pepper. But I don’t have a prep table! So this performance takes the form of relational aesthetics by inviting audience members to hold my ingredients and tools.
“Cucumbers en las Mañanitas” begins when I enter holding a large paper bag. I look around the room at each person to create a sense of community and warmth. I pick a random clothing item, such as blue jeans, to decide who I will interact directly with in this performance. I take out a lemon and ask the first person wearing blue jeans if they can please help me by holding the lemon. They agree. I take out a lemon squeezer and ask a second person who is wearing blue jeans if they can hold my tool. They agree. I move across the room and continue to ask nicely for help holding each item in my bag. Once my bag is empty, I begin to prep my snack without a table. While I walk around the room to prep this snack, I fill the silence by singing the traditional Mexican birthday song, “Las Mañanitas.” I sing with an ear of corn in my mouth. This is a symbol that represents Mexican history being censored. Corn is an important vegetable to Mexican culture and here it functions as a mouth gag. Another layer to this performance is that I am pregnant, with my belly exposed. After singing “Las Mañanitas” a couple of times all while peeling, cutting, and seasoning two large cucumbers into a plastic cup, I walk around and each person takes a slice. While I walk around sharing the snack, I explain to the viewers how my baby can now hear my voice inside my womb, and how I’m getting an early start on sharing Mexican customs with this song today. I thank them and leave.