They want to hide things.
So many lies fill our eyes with dust.
—Regina José Galindo
In Regina José Galindo’s Rescue (2017), the action is heard before it is seen. Performed in Athens, Galindo’s action is a response to the misinformation, characterizations of weakness, and demonstrations of power enmeshed in the EU bailout measures. For many, “The rescue is more dangerous than the crisis itself.” Galindo’s Rescue underscores that this bailout was not simply about money but about, very viscerally, life and death. Her spectacular performance, ironically so, and with helicopter included, exposes the contradiction that is at the heart of the rescue (be it economic or otherwise): the act of setting something free also serves to reinscribe the freedom of the liberators.
Galindo, born in 1974 in Guatemala City in the midst of civil war, is known for taking risks, testing the limits of her body and its capacity to speak. She has been waterboarded (a form of torture that simulates drowning), and shackled and chained for days while carrying on her daily routines. She has even cut the word perra (bitch) into her leg to mimic the mutilation found on the bodies of murdered Guatemalan women (in 2005, bodies of women where found with the phrase “muerte a todas las perras” [death to all the bitches] cut into their skin). She has orchestrated subtler interventions as well: a gathering of people to raise the temperature in a room, and another that exists only as a trace—a trail of bloody footprints to mark the path between Guatemala’s Constitutional Court and the National Palace.
Another work, Objective (2017), has Galindo in the middle of a closed room in Kassel. The only way to see her is by looking down the barrel of a gun. Germany ranks among the top five weapons manufacturers in the world. Much of the country’s munitions profits come from the sale of G36 Heckler & Koch assault rifles, which are exported to conflict zones including the Americas. (Galindo notes it was such guns that killed the forty-three students of Ayotzinapa, Mexico, in the Iguala mass kidnapping.) While Galindo places herself in vulnerable situations, she is never a victim. Her vulnerability has a way of exposing our susceptibilities: When you look at her through a gunsight, will you feel the impulse to look away, intervene, or pull the trigger?