You would have also traveled with me as I flew from the apple trees of Sablé-sur-Sarthe, to the cobblestone of San Cristóbal de las Casas, where I, alongside 40 other activists, artivists, scholars, and revolutionaries debated, protested, and marched in the name of social visibility, land rights, and the right to live without GM.
When we arrived to San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, we were presented with a problem. Monsanto, the creators of the genocidal machine Agent Orange and the company responsible for the bulk of genetically modified foods in the U.S. food supply chain, is looking at Mexico as its next market, and in particular, Mexican corn.
Why is this bad (well, if you're reading this blog, then I'm sure you have your own ideas)? But in my humble and newly informed opinion, this is bad for a gamut of reasons from GM's being proven to cause cancer to destroying local economies, to taking over a crop that is, from its very origins within the Mayan creation story, the ORIGINS OF LIFE!
So, led by artist and activist Jesusa Rodriquez, and digital activist/prankster Jacques Servin of the Yes Men, and alongside the actors/activists of Fortaleza de la Mujer Maya and actors/activists of Yuyachkani, we explore how to use our bodies, and the refasioning of our bodies to raise awareness in San Cristóbal, and Mexico worldwide, of Monsanto's impending next move.
We took on the streets, in naturally dyed pigments, fabric, food scraps, as two theatrical sides: HUMANITY/ People of the Corn and a re-fashioned interpretation of the corporate beast, Monsanto.
(Photo Credits: Marlène Ramírez-Cancio, Lorie Novak, Lisandra Ramos-Grullón, Silvia Serrano, and Diana Taylor)
We succeeded in drawing a great crowd in the Plaza de la paz y la resistencia, a plaza at the center of the city where such actions often take place, and sought to settle this Humanity vs. Monsanto debate in the most fair way as possible: a dodge ball game. Each side enlisted help from the crowd, with only the side of Humanity achieving, and in the end...fairly and squarely, Humanity/The People of the Corn won, and most importantly, the very person who won the game was a young woman from the area who just happened to join in. In this act, we brought hypervisibility to an all too pressing issue, but most critically we succeeded in dialoguing with quite a number of children who may not know the politics of GM, but knew that "Monsanto is bad because they are trying to take the corn."
This visual / aesthetic /refashioned action was accompanied by a digital one, where members of the collective, Sin Maíz No Hay Vida, created a false website impersonating Monsanto and declaring pre-emptively what they were seeking to keep hidden within their boardrooms. And the company responded accordingly---> What does this mean? We as the people are letting them know we are watching.
In this overly chemicalized world, what can we do? Where do we stand? Continuing the conversation from an transnational to a hemispheric to a GLOBAL level so that Humanity DOES win in the end? How? By electing organic, staying active in our food and FABRIC consumption, making our governments and the multinational corporations listen while making sure that everyone in our lives is informed, conscious, and equipped to make the best nourishment and consumer decisions they can through various platforms, whether it be blogs or fashion collection presentations to spread the awareness.
And so, on September 10th, 2013, I will be presenting ReciclaGEM by Tamara Leacock's Spring 2014 collection, Sin Maiz No Hay Vida, inspired by the aesthetic act that took place at the Plaza de la Resistencia, inspired by the questions of culture, appropriation, identity, and visibility that we wrestled with in the creation of the act, inspired by the visual couture that overwhelmed the city of San Cristóbal through the huipiles extravagently embroidered with Mayan iconography, and inspired by the need to use the visually arresting power of fashion to platform activist causes in an effort to lead to social change.
If you are in NYC, I would love to see you. If you are not, I would love to see you digitally through: sinmaiznohayvida.org and through the connections with the activists organizations based in Mexico that have and are continuing to fight transgénicos nationally and beyond.
In the name of non-genetically modified ethical embodiment and fashion,