A world, for a creature of the border (2017)

In 1609 Philip III issued a decree for the deportation of the Moriscos from Valencia. The Moriscos were the descendants of the Spanish-Muslim population that converted to Christianity by coercion in the early 16th century. That Ezme de Laguart (1580-1609) died the same year the decree was pronounced was no coincidence. She was a Morisco healer who initiated the great rebel against the deportation at La Vall de Laguar in 1609. 1500 rebels gathered, a tragic event in history that few knows about. She encouraged the uprising by spreading the prophecy of “the green horse”: a knight covered in lush greenery would help the people in the upcoming battle. The prophecy did not come true and knowing they were defeated she brought her people up a high mountain where they committed suicide by jumping off the cliff. The expulsion of the Moriscos continued throughout Spain and by the end of the 18th century, indigenous Islam and Morisco identity were considered to have been extinguished in Spain. This is a story that is repeated over and over again. Throughout the world and in all times.

I am now giving life to Erina de Laguart – the unborn daughter of Ezme, who at the age of four, witnessed the barbarism at La Vall de Laguar. The vision of the knight that never came, was encapsulated in the rapidly beating heart of an orphan. I am weaving our destinies, so she will come to life through me. Brutal and tender I draw our inner world. What should be remembered? What should be condemned? What should be forgiven?

The world she builds is a world inhabited by children. By the help of birds, they create vessels of clay in which they contain their memories in order to move forward. Strategies for survival when one’s home has turned into a mass grave. There are no survivors who can speak in the names of the victims. So, I give life to Erina, a child who were never born.

During two weeks of 2017, I was an artist resident in Rojales, Spain. Together with the Art n Ground team we travelled up the mountains of La Vall de Laguar to look for signs of Ezme de Laguart and her daughter. I then visited archaeological sites and finally presented my findings during the El Rodearte de Mayo Festival.

Mural for the El Rodearte de Mayo Festival:

 

  • May 9th, 2017