visual artist and performer

Last November I was invited to El Paso University (UTEP) to have a show and give a workshop. El Paso is directly on the other side of the border with Ciudad Juarez, a Mexican city that is considered one of the most violent places in the world, especially for women. In the last 5 years alone, there has been 4000 feminicides.

Once I arrived to El Paso, It felt like Ciudad Juarez was really far away, in some other world and in a completely different story.

 It was only after I got in touch with students and professors that some stories came out and Ciudad Juarez appeared on the other side of the river.

From the cafeteria, I could see it, eroded.

 Students from Ciudad Juarez cross the border everyday to go to school. They leave home knowing they might not come back. Almost everyone has a family member who was murdered or a dramatic story that has toughened them and built their personalities.

 At the end of the workshop a student from Ciudad Juarez approached me, she was upset. She started talking and many words popped out, one after another, full of anger. I should confess that I had to sit down and try not to cry. More than being shocked by what she was saying, I was moved by the emotions she transmitted. She told me she lived in constant fear, with distrust and resentment to men. She leaves home every day with a deep terror and carries a knife.

 To live in constant distress, fear as part of our everyday life, habits founded upon fear, seeing it as what is normal, when every decision is taken from that perspective, it is like an eroded state of existence.

 How does the body react to that? How far can fear adapt and be tolerated in our existence to the point of losing all apparent implications and meaning?

I wonder if we are, as a country, paralyzed by fear.

 This girl now lives legally in El Paso, in one of the safest cities in the United States, on the other side of the Río Bravo. She is just one step away from one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

 

Galia Eibenschutz