Areyto de liberación
Areytos are song-dance ceremonies or rituals held by Taíno people and celebrated for different purposes. For my thesis, I wanted to have a ceremony of liberation, a ceremony where I, as Puerto Rican, decolonize myself by reconnecting with my aboriginal culture that is constantly suppressed by Eurocentric education and a colonial mindset. I as a borikua heal from the violence of my ancestry. In this areyto, I encounter those ancestral memories, face the atrocity of colonization, give myself room to feel insecure and question my identity and end up reconnecting with my divine nature.
In this Areyto of liberation, I start by recognizing my past, reconnecting with my roots, and move to a body of work that deals with the aspects of healing. What is healing? What is the process of healing? Is healing a linear process? Healing as tissue, as fiber, fiber representing all qualities of the healing process: how some materials signify healing and how we use them. For this project I have focused on exploring gauze as a statement, as a material that supports wounds, that stretches and resembles fiber and its characteristic of oneness. The strength of lace, a woven structure where if one link in the fiber breaks everything else will still be connected. Fiber is strong, fiber is a whole of multiple threads together, fiber is us.
This areyto touches on discrimination, the sense of superiority, of believing yourself to be superior. In response to that, I present myself as a channeler, as someone aware of their connection with the divine, with mother earth and in finding strength from relearning my ancestry and unlearning what has been taught through Eurocentric lenses. This body of work is also a response to current forms of colonization that are happening in the island resulting in settler colonialism and gentrification—transforming the place I call home into a place where my people and I cannot afford to live, a Puerto Rico without Puerto Ricans. This is an areyto to heal through words, through energies, through creating textures and materials that speak to me, an areyto that resulted in a body of work that experiences and expresses grief, confusion, insecurity, realization, empowerment, comfort, and liberation.
Photos by María Carolina Ceballos