Tengo miedo; no tenemos miedo
2018.Work in progress. Public Performance,different locations. New York.
Three years ago, I moved from Spain to New York; among many obstacles, I found language to be an important barrier in my everyday life: “sorry, I don’t understand”, “Can you repeat, please”, “you have kind of an accent, where are you from?”, not being able to fully express my thoughts, or not being considered in intellectual exchanges, made it clear that my voice didn’t count as much as others, made it clear that I did not belong here.
“Tengo miedo; No tenemos miedo”” (I’m afraid; We are not afraid) is a durational performance that addresses issues on immigration, modes of belonging and the multicultural character of American society, gathered together through speech and language. Given the recent events of families being separated at the borders, when speaking Spanish or a different language becomes a “probable cause” to question and arrest individuals -in a country with no official language-, and given Spanish is the second most-spoken language in the U.S., how can the performative act of speech recast notions of nation, belonging and rights in a territory? How does a hegemonic language draw the line for people´s exclusion and inclusion within a state?
The action is not about appropriating the symbol of a nation as much as it is about questioning how language sets the borders that determine who belongs or not to a nation, what rights they are entitled to or not, and whose life does or doesn’t count .
Carrying this action out in a public space has resulted in people approaching me about the meaning of it, leading to discussions on immigration, nationalism, and multiculturalism in the United States. After thanking them for participating in the action I ask them: What do you think about the national anthem being sung in Spanish or in any other language? I´ve sung the anthem with a peruvian war veteran, with a gay trump supporter, hispanic teenage boys, visiting tourist families, among many others,