Being Anastacia 2006

Goethe Institute, Salvador, Brazil

A community based project in Brazil on the legendary slave Anastasia, who was punished to death with an iron mask on her mouth for voicing against her master. Anastasia’s attempt to voice her oppression and her martyrdom became an inspiration to other Afro-Brazilians who pay their respects to her.

The project explores how dreams and desires are silenced by the invisible masks and the gap between the official (hi)story and the unofficial (hi)story.

During the period of the residency, I made the people of Brazil go through Anastasia’s experience invoking in them a desire to express their opinions fearlessly. Young girls were asked to put on the mask of hair (hair mask, hair shirt) in order to sanctify them, to align or associate them with divinity, the goddess, the saint. Theirs is not an official canonization; it is un-authorized, thus it stands outside the structures of conventional authority and power.