Without doubt the principal influence in my work has been the women I’ve met in my life: mothers, friends, artists, survivors, sex workers, strippers, fighters, activists, performers, women of all ages and all backgrounds who I have met in the different countries and contexts I’ve lived in.
The other predominant influence in my practice has been the work of Federico Garcia Lorca, particularly his Deep Song and Gypsy Ballad publications. Lorca has continued to inspire me and he has become essential to the focus of my artistry.
Upon completing my education in Art History in Spain and Italy, I made the decision to relocate to Andalusia to study flamenco; initially to Cadiz and then to Seville. It was the one place in this world where I could truly experience the same mysteries and pain which Lorca had immersed himself in through love, death, alienation and Duende.
Lorca’s writings contribute to a truer understanding of the ancient, deep and authentic spirit of Spain. Lorca located the essence of Spain’s spirit in the Duende, “a mysterious power that everyone senses and no philosopher explains.” According to Lorca's translator Christopher Maurer, Duende is equal parts “irrationality, earthiness, awareness of death” with “a dash of the diabolical”. The “ancient culture” Lorca describes was in touch with the “bitter root” of existence, and the “pain which has no explanation,” which is why we have music and drama, poetry and art. The world of Lorca is inhabited by dead lovers and lost wandering souls. His writing is evocative and passionate.
Garcia Lorca demonstrated a heightened sensibility towards the female gender, admiring women while also exploring their second-class position in society at this point in history. Reading Lorca’s writings I can feel the oppression of all that is feminine in Spanish society. His writings also illustrate timelessness evident in what women experienced at the beginning of the 20th century and continue to encounter in our societies today. Superficially there have been advances towards equality, however this does not resolve the embedded feminine traumas all women carry.
It is through Lorca’s work that I have come to except and embrace the ‘invisible’. Lorca inspires me, his way of seeing both the world we inhabit and that of the spirit world. His consideration to the feminine is unique and empathic unlike many writers of either gender.
In my performances, I embody the female characters from Lorca’s poems depicting them in outlandish and provocative costuming. The performances take the form of traditional burlesque, performed to entice, challenge and hypnotize my audience. At the same time, through the performance I deconstruct traditional concepts of Spanish dress such as the Flamenco skirt, the comb, the veil, the bolero as well as the behavior of the ‘Spanish Female’. I do this by rethinking the materials items are made out of and subverting how those items are worn. The purpose is to push the female character that was once submissive into becoming a goddess liberated from her prescribed traditional roles.
La Beti is the character I’ve developed who brings to life a variety of personas. She performs through ritual, where she locates the poetic works through the four elements (air, fire, water and earth) in order to facilitate my purpose and to trace in my consciousness a circle that invokes these elements. La Beti’s mission is to liberate the feminine memory of my history and lineage from the chaste and superficial values of religion in order to dismantle patriarchy.
When I started performing in London I performed in various churches, which felt like acts of psycho-magic. The process seems to have worked towards liberating me from the angst and asphyxia I breathe within my lineage.