Guadalupe Martinez: Memories of the Body I Never Was, and Forever Will Be

Posted on September 21st, 2015

Guadalupe - photo by Todd Janes

Guadalupe Martinez – photo by Todd Janes


A stolen sentence: “What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.” Below is a series of similarly hijacked propositions tuned to Guadalupe Martinez’s Memories of the Body I Never Was, and Forever Will Be, a performance based upon her walks through the city. She collects artifacts and phrases from the city and activates them within the gallery space. Each nest of propositions is followed by a description of her action that attempts to follow the grammar established therein.

Account in 7 Parts


1         The performance is everything that is the case.*
1.1      The performance is the totality of actions, not of things.
1.11    The performance is determined by the actions, and by these being all the actions.

Guadalupe stands in a room with a dead tree on the floor, a box of bricks, a metal sign-holder, rolls of black paper, and a big plastic garbage can full of dirt. She writes “Account in 7 Parts” and “1. Remember” on the white projector space of the wall, using a piece of charcoal purloined from the garden box in front of a condo developer’s office down the street from Latitude 53. She takes a few bricks from the box, rectangular ones about 3 x 2 x 8, and stacks them on edge horizontally, two at a time. She takes three long, skinny bricks and stands them vertically. They veer to the right, but stand. Finally, she takes twelve red bricks with two rows of holes in the middle. They are caked with cement, some of which she knocks off by dashing them against the floor. And she stacks them. The three towers form a triangle.

*[The decimal figures as numbers of the separate propositions indicate the logical importance of the propositions, the emphasis laid upon them in the stolen exposition. The propositions n.1, n.2, n.3, etc., are comments up on proposition No. n; the propositions n.m1, n.m2, n.m3, etc., are comments on the proposition No. n.m; and so on.]


2         What is the case, the action, is the existence of atomic actions.
2.1      We make to ourselves pictures of actions.
2.2      The picture has the logical form of representation in common with what it pictures.

She writes “2. Basketball.” She directs two fingers out at waist height and runs her fingertips along the wall, all the way around the room. When she reaches some observers, they duck. Others stand, and she runs her fingers lightly over their arms and torsos. Her fingers are barely palpable, but they knock my pen and draw an arc upon the page opposite my notes.

Madonna of the Wheat

3         The logical picture of actions is the thought.
3.001 “An atomic action is thinkable” — means: we can imagine it.
3.01    The totality of true thoughts is a picture of the performance.

She writes the third subtitle and walks over to the box of bricks. She lays down three, then one on top of that, then two on top of that. She gathers a hammer and nail and the black rolled up tube of paper. She climbs the wobbly platform of bricks and unfurls the tube like a scroll. It is a chalk rubbing that depicts a figure from a mural at the YMCA. They are holding a large oblong object. They look serious. Guadalupe holds a nail in her mouth as she hammers away. She gathers and hammers up another rubbing. It looks like it’s from a plaque. It says, “All the Pioneer Women of Alberta.” Her step stool collapses, and she taps it with her foot to make a plinth or a dais. She stands atop it, tucks in her shirt, sets her arms like she’s holding a sack of wheat and holds the pose, holds it — then steps back down and ponders.


4         The thought is the significant proposition.
4.001 The totality of propositions is the language.
4.01    The proposition is a picture of the performance.
The proposition is a model of the performance as we think it is.

She writes the subtitle on the wall. Off goes her red cardigan. Guadalupe drags the garbage can by the handles, out into the middle of the room. She stuffs her head within, fights it, loses the fight, falls over with her head in the dirt, rides it, drags it, rolls it over. The garbage can lies on its side, taunting her like a cavern mouth. She shoves her head inside and burrows into the garbage can. Head-first in the can, she reaches forward with both hands and scoops like spades, piling the dirt upon the floor. Then she struggles to tip the can upon the pile, upends it, and pushes the cylinder out of the way. She approaches the dirt. She dives headfirst into the dirt and scoops it up, heaping it over her head, breathing deep — an acephalous body, her arms pull more dirt and her feet tap the floor a little. Her hands caress the dirt, they pet the mound. If I couldn’t hear her breath resonating through the earth I would worry. She’s been down there a long time. Then she emerges, stands, and shakes it off. As she walks back to the white area to write the next subtitle, she brushes her bangs and hair off her cheeks, in a tiny personal motion I’ve seen her do a hundred times throughout the festival. I realize that she is Guadalupe, and no persona.

“That was made by old men” — he said

5.133     All inferences take place a priori.
5.136     There is no causal nexus which justifies an inference.
5.1361   The events of the future cannot be inferred from those of the present.
Superstition is the belief in a causal nexus.

Guadalupe writes the subtitle. She drags the tree, the dried dead tree (at least 23 feet long, according to Christian), gets beneath it and braces it on her shoulders, then her back, with a dry heave. Musclemen would call it a “clean jerk.” Her hands snake along the length of the tree. Her feet spread wide. She removes her hands — it balances upon the small of her back but there’s nothing small in the action — it teeters, it hits the box, then swings the other way. It tilts again. She’s on all fours. The action holds, for a moment, then the tree rolls off her back and crashes to the floor, showering splinters and and chunks of bark everywhere.

Shitty Art

6.1        The propositions of actions are tautologies.
6.11      The propositions of actions therefore say nothing.
6.1202 It is clear that we could have used for this purpose contradictions instead of tautologies.

She pulls the log out of the way. With her hands on her hips, Guadalupe tugs up her jeans, walks to the white space, and writes the next subtitle. She grabs bricks from the dais. Four. One for each appendage. She stands them up on edge, then stands upon them on all fours. She pushes forward one hand at a time, then dips her toe over the edge of a foot-brick and nudges it along before placing her weight upon the mobile grey platform. The foot-bricks totter like a drunk’s high heels. She walks like a brontosaurus along the length of the fallen tree. The left foot-brick tumbles on its side. She drags it over to the other foot-brick, visibly tense, and tries to right it against the brick beneath her sound foot. It doesn’t come. It resists her. She tugs it again with the rubber rim of her Doc Martens and it balances upon the edge. She walks: Clomp Clomp, Drag Drag. It falls again, resists, and is righted. She is halfway across the floor, her shirt billowing, her appendages straining. It is strenuous. It falls apart at the seams, but she does not cease. She moves. When the action finishes on the other side of the room, she breathes deeply and parts her hair with her fingers then brushes her cheeks.


6.4          All actions are of equal value.
6.4321    The facts all belong only to the action and not to its performance.
6.5           The riddle does not exist.

Another word on the wall. A hammer and two nails and cellophane. Seven taps. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. And it hangs. She drops the hammer. She says: “Thank you.”

7         Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

Guadalupe Martinez - photo by Todd Janes

Guadalupe Martinez – photo by Todd Janes