"TRANS OVUS MENS" or a zoomorphic ritual from the cervix.
The works that make up "Trans Ovus Mens", Alba Soto's latest work, have been conceived in four series that symbolize the different cycles that she herself goes through: pre-ovulation, ovulation, premenstruation, menstruation. Thus, these drawings that we see are a performative ritual in which the artist evokes her ancestors to heal her transgenerational heritage. This ritual is embodied in a zoomorphic dance that flows through different papers from the artist's travels and life events: bamboo tree from Bangladesh, fabrics from India, papers that evoke the celebration acquired in Chicago, others recovered from an album family. Each of these phases is characterized, for Soto, by different rhythms, impulses and affectivities that make the body constantly metamorphose. All this gives us again and again a body that is many bodies. These multimorphic bodies connect the head with the ovary, are change instead of thought, dance in opposition to statism and travel in a time that has already been and that, in turn, has not yet been. This visual narrative generated by Soto is accompanied, in the exhibition space, by four installations in which the artist will perform a ritual performance every week.
At first glance, we might think that there is no vital connection between Interior Scroll, the performance carried out by Carolee Schneemann in the 1970s in which the artist extracts a roll of paper from her vagina while reciting a speech written on it, and Trans Ovus Mens. We could think that Soto's project is not heir to the proposals of many other artists who, based on feminism, have worked with menstrual blood and the abject fluids of women's bodies. That one and the other do not make up the same genealogy. We could even come to think that the works of the 70s and 80s, located in the field of performance, and that of Soto, made almost in 2020 and embodied in a plastic work, do not share a performative materiality. We would be wrong. All of them articulate the same subversive genealogy, they dialogue with each other, they drink from mutual fluids and their abjections and, therefore, make up the same poetic, artistic and material gesture. This feminist genealogy not only places the body as the materiality of its practices, taking up again and again the words of the artist Bárbara Kruger of “your body is a battlefield”, but they let the body speak, and they do it through no from the Cartesian language of reason but from languages that scream from the womb, and that are thought from that neck of the uterus that we rarely see ourselves because it has been stolen from us by medical science.
Text by Yera Moreno Sainz-Ezquerra (visual artist, researcher and professor of art history at the UCM faculty of fine arts).