Alicia Grullon is a performance artist whose work deals with encounters between people. She works in public spaces, creating social interventions and re-enactments of true stories in which passersby are invited to participate. Her interventions pertain to race, class and gender-based identities; and ideas of belonging and not belonging. The re-enactments she does examine the space between memory and experience. Illegal Death responds to the deaths of undocumented workers in the Tri-State area. It is inspired by the scene where a 20-year-old undocumented worker from Honduras was found frozen to death in a makeshift shelter in a forest on Long Island. She originally restaged the scene in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx by playing the undocumented worker. In this version, the performance is presented to the audience through photographs, which echo the way Grullon learned of the tragic event through images in the media. In another re-enactment entitled No Cookies, Grullon recreated signs from the 2009 strike at the Stella D’oro cookie factory in the Bronx. For 10 months, workers were striking to protect their wages, health insurance and sick leave. Ultimately the factory moved South to avoid conceding to its employees’ demands. Grullon remade the signs, and stood at the site of the strike where the now-empty factory remains, handing out cookies to people as they passed by on the street. In her conversations with people at the site, Grullon was surprised by how many did not know of the recent event, which had a major impact on the quality of life in the neighborhood. She also engaged in civic actions like Enjoy the Revolution, in which she handed out flyers that read, “Enjoy the Revolution,” in front of the Wells Fargo building on Wall Street, or encounters ike Rice Cake: Structure, performed in a market in Anyang, Korea. There, she asked a local shop owner to show her how to make the Korean rice cake delicacy, Dok. Through the experience she reflected on the relationship between herself and the shop owner, the action of getting to know a community through its food, and also the loss of local identity in globalizing cities. The work used the familiar setting of the food market and the activity of preparing ‘traditional’ food as sites to explore identity, civic action, and urban form. She creates encounters of generosity in the exchange of information and things in order to observe how they unfold in a public setting. As a result, the projects become strategies in observing and documenting many different cultures.
Click here to see the un-edited footage of Alicia
Enjoy the Revolution, New York, NY, 2011
Rice Cake: Structure, Anyang, Korea, 2009
No Cookies, Bronx, NY, 2010
Illegal Death, Bronx, NY, 2007