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Josephine Ortiz Merida

first performed on May 15, 2021
border wall near the Naco Point of Entry in Arizona, Naco, AZ
performed once in 2021


Tempe, AZ


“Barriendo la Frontera” is part of a performance art series dedicated to my cosmology video artworks. This performance is part of a video work titled “Huitzilopotchli.”

“Huitzilopotchli” is the second installment in my cosmology series. It is a visual narrative of a celestial body who lands in northern Arizona and takes a reverse migration journey to the border to be confronted with the harsh realities of these borderlands. Huitzilopotchli is the Mexican god of war that also represents the south. The video explores the ecological, physical, and psychological trauma that affects the land, animals, peoples, and immigrants of the borderlands caused by the erecting of the border wall and recent immigration policies. The work is based on the idea that a war is being raged on the immigrants and land of the south, hence its connection to Huitzilopotchli. This video explores concepts of cleansing and healing rituals along the border through performance art, meditative rituals, and pulls on the physics theory of quantum tunneling to imagine ways to help heal the land.

In “Barriendo la Frontera,” I sweep along the border wall erected near the point of Entry in Naco, AZ.. The act of sweeping dates to pre-Columbian Mesoamerican rituals. Sweeping was done to cleanse a space and prepare it for rituals. Sweeping the border, in this case, represents an act of both cleansing and preparing the land. Sweeping as cleansing acknowledges the ecological and psychological trauma caused by the erection of the border wall and alludes to Latinx women who work as house cleaners. Sweeping takes on a symbolic gesture suggestive of clearing the land from negative energies, one that at the time of the performance seemed futile. I imagined the land being deeply penetrated with trauma. Sweeping as ritual prepares the land for the cleansing ritual that follows the sweeping at the border in “Huitzilopotchli.” The cleansing ritual performed in “Huitzilopotchli” focuses on using a meditative practice to ground the body to the earth, to listen to the earth, and be one with the earth.

“Barriendo la Frontera” is dedicated to the women who have crossed or live in the borderlands. I honor your strength and acknowledge your pain. It is also dedicated to the borderlands that have experienced ecocide, may you heal with dignity and may we as a society learn to better care for you and our people.