“Paranoias of Paya” (payo or paya is how gypsies call to the white people) is a series of small actions with which I begin each of my sessions at IES Montes Orientales de Iznalloz (Granada), within the Mus-e program of the Yehudi Menuhin Spain Foundation (FYME). I am fortunate to work on this project and to share my way of understanding art with the girls and boys of 1st and 2nd year of High School, together with their visual arts teachers. The title is taken from the expression: “teacher, you are already with your payo paranoias!” that a student at this center said about a special proposal from a teacher, and which reflects the common practice of calling “paranoias” to the things that other people do and we don’t understand.
The initial goal of this series of small actions is none other than to get their attention for a few minutes. After the initial surprise, I am achieving my purpose, and even some days there is some expectation for the new action. Some groups silently watch and others excitedly comment on my movements. In any case, it seems that I manage to provoke some interest and curiosity.
Another purpose for carrying out these actions is to bring students closer to the language of performance art since the best way to understand, respect, and even feel interested in this artistic expression is by witnessing it live. And with each new action, I have observed how they have progressively integrated what I do and gradually understanding this language.
Finally, it is important to note that after living these experiences, I have understood together with the teachers, that the true value of these actions (as well as the related activities that we have carried out) is to show and invite to experience everything that comes out of what is considered “normal”. I am very interested that the girls and boys with whom I have the opportunity to work see and do “strange things”, “nonsensical things”, “follies” (as they say) … in fact, they have learned the meaning of ” the absurd ”, one of my favorite concepts both in art and in life, since what we do not understand from an intellectual point of view, often connects us with another part of us more related to the unconscious, to the emotional, with the sensory …
As an artist, to carry out these performances in front of such a spontaneous audience that they sometimes exclaim in full action “Teacher, you are crazy! What are you doing ?! ”It has been a difficult experience at times and always very enriching. These actions allow me to share my work and my way of understanding art and life beyond the circuits of art, in which one feels safe and protected. It is a challenge and at the same time a way to bring contemporary art closer to a population that hardly has access to this type of artistic manifestation.
Each action is carried out at the beginning of the session, without saying a word beforehand, after it, we comment on what has happened and what they have felt or thought when seeing it. I am very grateful to IES Montes Orientales and to the Yehudi Menuhin Foundation for trusting in my work and giving me the opportunity to carry out my “Paya Paranoias”.
Next, I will briefly describe the ten actions that I have carried out during the first term of the 20-21 course. At the begining, inevitably, the performances have had to do with the use of the mask. Although it was not my intention, many of the interpretations and reflections that the students have made about all the actions have been related to the Covid-19 situation.
Thank you very much to my partners Cristina and Pablo for the photos and videos.
You can see the Paranoias realized in 2019 HERE.
ACTION 1: Masks and messages.
I appear with more than ten masks on. I take off one by one and on them are written the words YES and NO alternately. In the last one there is a message and a declaration of intent: “Under this mask, I am smiling.”
ACTION 2: Ten masks.
I wear many masks hanging from my arm that I put on my face until they cover me completely, simulating a big mask. Blind and clumsy, I walk around the classroom.
ACTION 3: Balloon and mask.
I have hidden a balloon under my mask. I start to inflate it without taking off my mask. This doesn´t allow me to fully inflate it.
ACTION 4: Needle, thread, and mask.
I sew a mask with black thread from side to side with it on. I pull the thread at the end. The mask is deformed.
ACTION 5: Cotton and tape.
I put cotton in my eyes and I hold them with masking tape. I draw eyes on the tape. I take out the cotton little by little. I take off the tape and stick it on the board.
ACTION 6: Glove and disinfectant gel.
I inflate a surgical glove, tie it up, and disinfect it. I fondle myself. I sanitize it again and caress someone. I repeat the operation: disinfect-caress.
ACTION 7: Strainer and skewers.
I slowly place wooden skewers in a colander. I place it in front of my face and then on my head. Abruptly, I shake my head and the spikes fall. I put the strainer back, without skewers, in front of my face.
ACTION 8: Ball of aluminum foil.
I tie a large ball of aluminum foil with red tape and place it over my head. I walk fast to the wall and crush my head (the ball) against it. I repeat it several times.
ACTION 9: Clothespins.
I place clothespins in one of my hands. I walk showing that hand and feeling the pain more and more. I move my hand slowly and the clothespins fall. For the last ones I shake or help myself with the other hand.
ACTION 10: Feathers.
I paste five feathers on the blackboard. I support one hand under the feathers and the other next to it. I peel off the feathers and stick them on my fingers. I cover my face with the feathers.