Salt, Fat, Ashes, Heat
Presented by The Tank NYC
Produced by Mateo Huratado, The Brown Theatre Collective
Directed by Breanna Dioni
Stage Managed by: Yarie Vazquez
Performed by Eva Margarita
Los Angeles, CA
My first memories of cooking began with salt. My father instructing me how to very carefully pour the right amount into my left hand, pinch the salt with my right, and clap the rest in. I was taught if you didn’t dust the salt off your hands off at the end, the entire act of cooking or conjuring, would mean nothing.
Somehow my food would lose flavor if I didn’t follow these careful instructions. I had to pay attention. This attention was stressed even more when I came to realize I was only going to get those instructions once. Every other lesson in cooking was just like that; shown just one time with careful instruction and the expectation of repeatability. Lessons that came afterward we’re more so corrections than clear instructions.
Making tamales with my Papa and Tia Carmen, 2009
Every recipe, technique, or cooking methodology that my father handed down came from his own personal repertoire of embodied practices; a pragmatic approach to conjure that can not be contained by a traditional archive. This is why this work explores mourning through an anarchive of blackness and an archive of conjure.
That is, my work aims to follow the traces of events that hail a particular becoming. A becoming that is not stagnant, but rather a carrier of potential for (re)activation. As Erin Manning puts it,
“These traces are not inert, they are reactivatable, and their reactivation helps trigger a new event which continues the creative process from which they came, but in a new iteration….The anarchive has a pull and it is a pull to immediacy. It wants to activate, to orient. Or, better said, it is always already activating, orienting. This makes it a collaborator in all takings-form. Thinking of it as the event's anarchic share allows us underscore its role in all experience, human and more-than-human. It also allows us to place it on the register of the immanent rather than transcendant. The anarchive is not something "we" do. It is something that catches experience in the making. It is something that catches us in our own becoming.”
Salt, Fat, Ashes, Heat, uses anarchives to navigate blackness in a sea of porousness. A particular spillage that functions as an invitation to open and absorb mourning as an agent for (re)invention.
As we collectively mourn the loss of black lives, a sense of normalcy, and time I want us to consider what it might mean for us to sit with the trauma.
What might happen if we accompany each other in our communal memory, history,
Our interconnectedness finds blackness in mourning; in the social atrocities, in familial loss, and in our own embodied practices. I want to push a gathering of mourning as to recognize the communal grief folks across the Americas feel at this time.
Moreover Salt, Fat, Ashes, Heat, aims to (re)member the processes of mourning in order to best make use of the marvel of reinvention; to reinvent the things made in excess of time, over time. As we often gather around food, this performance asks us to consider what it means to have a history and for mourning to be an agent in it’s reinvention.
So I cooked...my father. Endo-cannibalistic approaches vary from culture to culture and is done as a funerary rite of passage. To consume the flesh of the other is to commit to their history and it’s reinvention through sharing. Moreover, Julieeta Singh highlights, these approaches to cannibalistic ritual are “rarely ever about consuming the whole body, but rather a discrete symbolic act of incorporation”.
A small act of taking the body of another’s into yours. Taking in the flesh of another is a way of claiming it as a part of you. This endo-cannibalistic (re)activation necessitates accompaniment. Simply put-it takes 2, minimum. Someone to create the entry point, and someone else to journey through it. Almost as if to say,
where you go I go.
I will break bread and bone with you,
For our love,
we embrace a collective mourning.
My approach to gathering has almost always come with or thru food. Some of my fondest memories, the ones that lay deep in the crevases of my soul, are learning to cook with my father. As an artist who peers into the practices of everyday life, I immediately turned to cooking when I thought about what it meant to reinvent particular processes, then I began to ask myself, ‘how could I reactivate my father?’ and I turned to food.
In the 12 hour marathon that was “Salt, Fat, Ashes, Heat” I cooked 3 dishes, wherein I picked just the bone pieces, the residual transcripts of his frame, to honor his relationship with his 3 children. His pounded down powdered ashes mixed into the fritas, the rice and beans, and it was all up in the sauce that went on top of the tamales. Each dish represents my father, but also another way of reinventing the body and renewing the grief by consuming it.
Following initial live recordings, only culinary soundscapes will be available for replay. These formats are designed to honor the archive of conjure which works with things hidden in plain sight; that is, the labor situated at a crossroads of morgue, stage, and spiritual practice.