Embodying Elsewhere

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Elsewhere has been in my body every since I left my country, Venezuela, in 2006. I came to Montreal as a dual Canadian-Venezuelan citizen for an excellent education and a higher quality of life. I looked forward to not living in such a politicized place; in Caracas, especially in my teenage years, my family spent a lot of time protesting and banging pots to protest Chavez’ “socialist” government. Those sounds of protest are still ringing in my ears.
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While in Montreal, I tried to not talk Venezuelan politics too much. It was complicated, messy and really emotionally draining. I was priviledged enough to be able to hide that inconvenient part of my life away for a while. That ignorance has stopped being an option during the past three years with mounting food scarcity, gun violence and skyrocketting inflation that has hit Venezuela for various reasons. I owe it to my country, its people, and my family still in Venezuela to engage in the conversation. This is where Elsewhere came from.
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I remember talking to my parents when they were still living in Venezuela two years ago. They would tell me about only being able to go grocery shopping once a week (according to their identification number), and the long lines they had to wait in to get food, not being able to find milk, eggs, meat…and not leaving the house after dark for fear of insecurity. I was shocked and angered by how normal this was becoming to them. I wanted to shake them from this complacency – no one should have to get used to a diminished quality of life! Elsewhere is inspired by the troubling acknowledgement that Venezuela is far from the only country in the world where people are forced to normalize absurdity to survive.
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In collaboration with director Cristina Cugliandro, I created six characters, all imaginary people currently living through the crisis under Nicolas Maduro’s dictatorship. We’ve had trouble keeping up with the fast paced political happenings in the contry. The majority of the country has been protesting for 45 days, and have been constantly met with violent repression on behalf of the police and the National Guard. Many brave souls have marched for change and lost their lives.
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Venezuela, I am not there marching for you right now, and I’m sorry. This story is for you.
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Photo source: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/venezuela-crisis/venezuela-protests-roads-blocked-anti-maduro-demonstrations-persist-n759516